The Case for Resurrecting the FTC Act’s Penalty Offense Authority

On April 222021, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Federal Trade Commission cannot continue to seek monetary relief from wrongdoers through § 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act—the authority predominantly relied on to challenge lawbreaking in federal court.

This news followed a string of mounting criticisms in recent years that have undermined public confidence in the Agency. A decade ago, after the FTC largely stood idle against abuses by subprime lenders, Congress stripped the Agency of key authorities over the financial sector. Today, concerns about the adequacy of the FTC’s antitrust enforcement and about its effectiveness as a privacy and data protection watchdog are once again raising questions about whether the FTC can protect the public from digital abuses.

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