The Truth in Advertising Act of 2014

UnknownOn March 27th, Congress introduced the Truth in Advertising Act of 2014 (H.R. 4341), which, if enacted into law, would require the FTC to create regulations to reduce advertising that features images that have been altered in a way that “materially change[s] the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies” of any persons depicted in them.  The bill was introduced in response to concerns that these sort of photoshopped images perpetuate unattainable standards of beauty, and have negative health effects on consumers.  

The proposed law would require the FTC to submit to a report to Congress within 18 months, which must include: (1) a strategy to reduce the use of altered images, and (2) recommendations for an appropriate framework for regulating such use.  The Act specifically directs the FTC to seek input from third-party “experts and stakeholders” before compiling its report, including experts from the physical and mental health, business, and consumer advocacy communities.

Members of the advertising industry are certainly “stakeholders,” and hopefully they will have their say.  One of the concerns raised by the Act is its potentially chilling effect on artistic expression, which should be of major concern not only to the advertising industry.  It should also be noted that advertisers are already regulated by the FTC, which prohibits the use of deceptive advertising methods, including photoshopped images that portray unrealistic and unattainable results.   Although well-intended, like so many other laws, the Truth in Advertising Act may be yet another example of Congressional overreaching.  

Author: Seth Heyman
Seth D. Heyman is a California attorney with extensive experience in advertising and marketing law, corporate law, contracts, governmental regulations, international business, and Internet law. He has counseled numerous successful companies, both public and private, and was responsible for regulatory compliance, contract management, corporate governance, and HR best practices for multiple organizations in many diverse industries, including marketing, telecommunications, energy, and technology development. He offers insight and guidance on federal and state direct mail, TV, radio, telemarketing, and Internet marketing laws, as well as online promotions, Internet privacy, data protection regulations, and similar matters.
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