REGULATORY AGENCIES: THE FTC AND FCC
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Created by Congress in 1914, the Federal
Trade Commission enforces a variety of federal antitrust and consumer-protection
laws and is responsible for taking action against practices that are unfair
or deceptive. The FTCs authority extends to the Internet, which,
like other media, can be used to deliver fraudulent content.
In April 2003, the FTC, for the first time, asked a judge to block a spam
(unsolicited commercial e-mail) operation that allegedly used deceptive
subject lines to draw customers to an adult Web site.
In an unprecedented effort to review false claims appearing in spam, the
FTC also analyzed 1,000 randomly selected e-mails received during six
months of 2002. According to its report False
Claims in Spam, 57 percent of adult-oriented messages contained
false information and 41 percent of adult-oriented spam contained false
from or subject lines that made it more likely
that recipients would open the messages.
The FTC also enforces the Children's
Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), passed by Congress in October
1998. COPPA gives parents control of what information is collected from
their children online. It applies to those operators of commercial Web
sites and online services directed to children under age 13, who collect
personal information from children. COPPA also applies to operators of
general sites who know that they are collecting information from children
under age 13.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Established by the Communications Act of 1934, the
Communications Commission is charged with regulating interstate
and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite,
cable in the U.S.
Although the FCC doesnt regulate the Internet or Internet service
providers, it’s responsible
for enforcing the Children's Internet Protection
Act (CIPA), passed in 1998. Intially, the agency was forced to suspend its enforcement of the CIPA provisions that applied libraries after a U.S. district court supported a First Amendment lawsuit filed by the American Library Association. On June 23, 2003, however, the Supreme Court overturned that ruling. The FCC can now resume enforcement of CIPA as it applies to libraries that receive federal technology funds.