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June 13 -- The FTC Collaboration Act of 2021 directs the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) to “provide opportunity for public comment and advice” relevant to the production of a study concerning certain specified topics related to “efforts with State Attorneys General to prevent, publicize, and penalize frauds and scams being perpetrated on individuals in the United States.” Comments must be received by August 14, 2023.

The mission of the Federal Trade Commission is to protect the public from deceptive or unfair business practices and from unfair methods of competition through law enforcement, advocacy, research, and education. Many State Attorneys General have similar missions within their States, in addition to other responsibilities. These complementary missions present numerous opportunities for the Commission and State Attorneys General to share information and collaborate on matters involving consumer protection.

On October 10, 2022, President Biden signed into law the FTC Collaboration Act of 2021. The Act directs the Commission to “conduct a study on facilitating and refining existing efforts with State Attorneys General to prevent, publicize, and penalize frauds and scams being perpetrated on individuals in the United States.” The results of this study will inform a report, which the Commission shall submit to the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate. In addition to setting forth the results of the study, the report shall contain “[r]ecommended best practices to enhance collaboration efforts between the Commission and State Attorneys General with respect to preventing, publicizing, and penalizing fraud and scams”; “[q]uantifiable metrics by which enhanced collaboration can be measured”; and “[l]egislative recommendations, if any, to enhance collaboration efforts between the Commission and State Attorneys General to prevent, publicize, and penalize fraud and scams.” 

The Commission welcomes the comments of State Attorneys General, other law enforcement and regulatory agencies, public interest organizations, industry representatives, consumers, economists, lawyers, academics, information technology professionals, and other interested parties.

Commenters are invited to address one or more of the following topics generally, or with respect to a specific industry or area of consumer protection.

(A) The roles and responsibilities of the Commission and State Attorneys General that best advance collaboration and consumer protection. Of particular interest to the Commission:

(1) What do commenters view as the respective roles and responsibilities of the Commission and State Attorneys General as they relate to consumer protection and preventing, publicizing, and penalizing frauds and scams?

(2) How, in practice, do the Commission and State Attorneys General effectively collaborate and support each other's consumer protection missions, in the context of: (a) investigating potential frauds and scams; (b) bringing joint or parallel law enforcement actions to prevent and penalize frauds and scams; and (c) reaching out to specific consumer audiences or the community as a whole to raise awareness and prevent and publicize frauds and scams? How could existing practices be improved to enhance effective collaboration?

(3) How, if at all, has the United States Supreme Court's decision in AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission impacted effective collaboration between the Commission and State Attorneys General or otherwise impacted enforcement programs?

(4) How does the work of State and local consumer protection law enforcement agencies or regulators outside of State Attorneys General, such as State financial services regulators and City Attorneys, facilitate and refine efforts between the Commission and State Attorneys General to prevent, publicize, and penalize frauds and scams? Similarly, how does the work of federal agencies that enforce laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive acts and practices (UDAP), such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Transportation, facilitate and refine efforts between the Commission and State Attorneys General to prevent, publicize, and penalize frauds and scams? How do these organizations effectively collaborate with and support State Attorneys General and the Commission in fulfilling their respective consumer protection missions? How could existing practices be improved to enhance effective collaboration?

(5) To what extent has federal law that has preempted State jurisdiction affected the ability of State Attorneys General to protect consumers from unlawful business practices?

(6) To what extent do differences or similarities between the FTC Act and State UDAP laws affect the respective abilities of the Commission and State Attorneys General to collaborate on preventing, publicizing, and penalizing frauds and scams? To what extent does the private right of action available under many State UDAP laws affect collaboration between the Commission and State Attorneys General? What differences are there between the remedies that the Commission and State Attorneys General may obtain under the statutes that they respectively enforce, and to what extent do these differences affect the respective law enforcement priorities of the Commission and State Attorneys General, and collaborative efforts between them?

(7) How can the Commission maximize use of, and contributions to, the Consumer Sentinel Network?

(B) How resources should be dedicated to best advance such collaboration and consumer protection. Of particular interest to the Commission:

(1) How should resources be dedicated to best advance collaboration and consumer protection missions between the Commission and State Attorneys General in the context of: (a) investigating potential frauds and scams; (b) bringing joint or parallel law enforcement actions to prevent and penalize frauds and scams; and (c) reaching out to specific consumer audiences, industry stakeholders, or the community as a whole to raise awareness and prevent and publicize frauds and scams?

(2) Are there any strategic, logistical, or technical challenges arising from such collaboration between the Commission and State Attorneys General?

(3) Has the exchange of technical or subject-matter expertise between the Commission and Attorneys General when collaborating on consumer protection matters been effective? Why or why not? Would States benefit from technical assistance from Commission staff, such as technologists and economists, in consumer protection matters? Are there any legal or practical restrictions on the Commission providing, and State Attorneys General receiving, technical assistance of this nature?

(4) How can information-sharing practices and technologies between the Commission and State Attorneys General be improved?

(5) What new resources or authority may be needed to enhance the Commission's collaboration with State Attorneys General?

(C) The accountability mechanisms that should be implemented to promote collaboration and consumer protection. Of particular interest to the Commission:

(1) With respect to the Commission, one of the Commission's Strategic Objectives is to “[c]ollaborate with domestic and international partners to enhance consumer protection.” The Commission currently reports on certain performance indicators and metrics bearing on this Objective that relate to collaboration with State Attorneys General. Are there any additional performance indicators or metrics that the Commission should consider reporting, or other mechanisms that should be implemented?

(2) Do any of the changes in practices, new resources, or authority recommended by commenters warrant new reporting requirements or other mechanisms to promote accountability and transparency? If so, what kinds of reporting requirements or mechanisms are recommended?
 
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-12507

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