David Vladeck

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David C. Vladeck
David Vladeck 2011.jpg
Vladeck testifying before Congress, 2011
Born (1951-06-06) June 6, 1951 (age 63)
New York City
Nationality  United States
Education B.A. (1972), J.D. (1976), L.L.M (1977)
Alma mater New York University
Columbia Law School
Georgetown Law School
Occupation Attorney
Employer Federal Trade Commission
Title Director of Consumer Protection
Predecessor Lydia Parnes
Successor Jessica Rich
Website
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/about.shtm

David C. Vladeck (born June 6, 1951)[1] is the former Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission, an independent agency of the United States government. He was appointed by the Chairman of the FTC, Jon Leibowitz, on April 14, 2009,[2] shortly after Leibowitz became Chairman.[3]

Education and career[edit]

Vladeck was a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center for seven years before his appointment to head the Bureau of Consumer Protection.[4] While at Georgetown, he served as the Co-Director of the Institute for Public Representation, leading the Institute's work in civil rights. He taught courses in federal courts, civil procedure, and government processes, and co-directed the Institute for Public Representation, a legal clinic.[5]

Before joining the faculty of the Georgetown University Law Center, Vladeck spent nearly 30 years as a lawyer at the Public Citizen Litigation Group, the litigation arm of Public Citizen, an advocacy organization founded by Ralph Nader. He served as the group’s director for 10 years.[6] While at the Public Citizen Litigation Group, Vladeck argued a number of cases in front of the United States Supreme Court, including cases about the First Amendment, Civil Rights, and Labor Law.[7] He also argued more than 60 cases in front of federal courts of appeal and state courts of last resort.[8]

Vladeck received his B.A. from New York University in 1972, and graduated with a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1976. He received an L.L.M. (Master of Laws) degree from Georgetown in 1977.[9] While a student at New York University, Vladeck played on the school’s basketball team.[10]

Family[edit]

Vladeck is a native of New York City.[11] Both of his parents were lawyers, and practiced in their own firm, which focused on workers’ rights. As of 2006, his mother still practiced in the firm with Vladeck’s sister. Vladeck’s brother, Bruce, was the head of the Health Care Financing Administration (now called the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) under President Bill Clinton. Vladeck is married, and has two sons, both of whom pitched for their college baseball teams.

Policy Priorities[edit]

Vladeck’s appointment to head the Bureau of Consumer Protection was lauded by consumer advocates, who felt that the Bureau had shown a pro-business bias under commissioners appointed by George W. Bush in areas such as consumer financial services and online privacy.[12][13] Since taking office, Vladeck has made clear that he intends to make significant changes to the Bureau’s approach in a few key areas.

Technology and Privacy[edit]

Since the FTC started to regulate online privacy issues, in the mid-1990s, its focus has been on whether consumers are provided with proper notice about what information may be collected from them and on whether they are given some choice about how it is collected and used. This philosophy was laid out in the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPs), published in a 1998 FTC report to Congress about Privacy Online. The Bureau of Consumer Protection has traditionally taken the position that as long as consumers are provided with notice through company privacy policies, collection and use of consumer data is acceptable, and that the Bureau should only intervene when a company’s information practices cause concrete, economic harm to consumers.[14][15]

Vladeck has publicly stated that he doesn’t believe this existing model succeeds in protecting consumers’ privacy online.[16] He has advocated a new framework that is broader than just economic interests, and that doesn’t rely solely on privacy policies to protect consumers online.[17] In a recent interview with the New York Times, Vladeck argued that, “I don’t believe that most consumers either read [privacy policies], or, if they read them, really understand it [sic]. Second of all, consent in the face of these kinds of quote disclosures, I’m not sure that consent really reflects a volitional, knowing act.”[18]

Vladeck’s new approach to online privacy can be seen in his handling of FTC litigation against Sears in In the Matter of Sears Holdings Management Corporation. In June 2009, shortly after Vladeck assumed office, the Bureau of Consumer Protection settled a case against Sears. The company had offered consumers $10 to download software that tracked their internet browsing. The software collected information such as medical prescriptions and financial information. The software contained a privacy policy with detailed disclosures about the type of information to be collected and how it would be used, and consumers suffered no economic harm when they downloaded it. Nevertheless, the FTC sued the company for its practice. Vladeck stated that “under the harm framework, we couldn’t have brought that case,” but that because “there’s a huge dignity interest wrapped up in having somebody looking at your financial records when they have no business doing that,” the Commission was justified in suing.[19]

Financial Regulation[edit]

Consumer Advocates have criticized the FTC in recent years for its lack of active regulation of financial services providers – including companies providing and servicing subprime mortgages – in the years leading up to the recent Financial Crisis of 2007-2010. As a recent article in Mother Jones Magazine noted, during the Bush Administration, the FTC “brought an average of one subprime lending case a year (in 2004 and 2005 there weren't any), even as the industry was experiencing record growth and complaints mounted about abusive practices leading to home foreclosures.”[20] David Vladeck intends to crack down on unfair or deceptive practices in the financial services industry. One of his first actions upon becoming director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection was to file a “sweep” of eight new cases (named “Operation Short Change”) against companies engaged in abusive financial practices targeted at individuals hard hit by the economic downturn.[21]

Advertising and marketing[edit]

In an October 2009 speech to the National Advertising Division, David Vladeck set forth his plan for the Bureau of Consumer Protection's regulation of advertising and marketing practices under his watch. He stated that the Bureau would have a renewed focus on national advertising, going after large companies that advertise widely and put forth deceptive or unsubstantiated claims, not just small companies perpetrating direct fraud. Vladeck also indicated that the Bureau would particularly focus on food advertising, health claims in advertising, and advertising and marketing practices directed at children.[22]

Additionally, since Vladeck took office, the Bureau has revised its Endorsement Guides, guidelines to advertisers who use endorsements and testimonials.[23] Previously, the guides – which were last revised in 1980 - only required product testimonials claiming exceptional results to have a disclaimer that said “Results Not Typical”. Under the new guidelines, using such testimonials will now require advertisers to “clearly and conspicuously disclose the generally expected results consumers can expect in the depicted circumstances.”[24] The guidelines also – somewhat controversially – require bloggers making an endorsement to disclose their “material connections” to the product’s manufacturer or seller.[25][26]

A positive response to the new rules and laws regarding endorsements and testimonials is an increased level of website compliance standards being adopted that includes the third-party verification of the testimonials businesses present on their websites.[citation needed] These companies, such as testimonialshield.com, collect the data regarding a customer's transaction and experience with a company and with a combined technology and sometimes even personal interviews with the customers to determine the authenticity of the testimonials. Once the testimonials, reviews and/or results are verified, the company can include them in their profiles and add a 'trust mark' similar to that of Verisign, the Better Business Bureau, or Good Housekeeping. The presence of this seal or trust mark helps consumers determine how much weight they should give to the testimonials they are reading before making a decision to support a business.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hart, Kim (April 15, 2009). "Law Professor to Lead FTC's Consumer Unit". The Washington Post. Retrieved 3/4/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ "FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz Appoints Senior Staff" (Press release). Federal Trade Commission. 2009-04-14. Retrieved 3/4/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Appointments" (Press release). White House. 2009-2-27. Retrieved 3/4/2010.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ "Biographies of Keynote Speakers, Consumer Rights Litigation Conference 2009" (PDF). Retrieved 3/4/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. ^ "Biography of David C. Vladeck". Law.georgetown.edu. Retrieved 3/4/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  6. ^ "FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz Appoints Senior Staff" (Press release). Federal Trade Commission. 4/14/2009,. Retrieved 3/4/2010.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ "Cases Argued by Public Citizen Litigation Group Attorneys in the Supreme Court of the United States". Public Citizen Litigation Group. Retrieved 3/4/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  8. ^ "FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz Appoints Senior Staff" (Press release). Federal Trade Commission. 2009-04-14. Retrieved 3/4/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  9. ^ "David Vladeck: Litigation Leader" (PDf). Georgetown Law Alumni Magazine. Spring–Summer 2006. Retrieved 3/4/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  10. ^ Hart, Kim (April 15, 2009). "Law Professor to Lead FTC's Consumer Unit". The Washington Post. Retrieved 3/4/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  11. ^ Hart, Kim (April 15, 2009). "Law Professor to Lead FTC's Consumer Unit". The Washington Post. Retrieved 3/4/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  12. ^ Clifford, Stephanie (August 4, 2009). "Fresh Views at Agency Overseeing Online Ads". The New York Times. Retrieved 3/7/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  13. ^ Mencimer, Stephanie (April 20, 2009). "Financial Sleazebags, Watch Out!". Motherjones.com. Retrieved 3/4/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  14. ^ "An Interview with David Vladeck of the F.T.C.". The New York Times, Media Decoder Blog. August 5, 2009. Retrieved 3/7/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  15. ^ Clifford, Stephanie (August 4, 2009). "Fresh Views at Agency Overseeing Online Ads". The New York Times. Retrieved 3/7/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  16. ^ "An Interview with David Vladeck of the F.T.C.". The New York Times, Media Decoder Blog. August 5, 2009. Retrieved 3/7/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  17. ^ Clifford, Stephanie (August 4, 2009). "Fresh Views at Agency Overseeing Online Ads". The New York Times. Retrieved 3/7/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  18. ^ "An Interview with David Vladeck of the F.T.C.". The New York Times, Media Decoder Blog. August 5, 2009. Retrieved 3/7/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  19. ^ Clifford, Stephanie (August 4, 2009). "Fresh Views at Agency Overseeing Online Ads". The New York Times. Retrieved 3/7/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  20. ^ Mencimer, Stephanie (April 20, 2009). "Financial Sleazebags, Watch Out!". Motherjones.com. Retrieved 3/4/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  21. ^ "FTC Cracks Down on Scammers Trying to Take Advantage of the Economic Downturn" (Press release). Federal Trade Commission. 7/1/2009. Retrieved 3/7/2010.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  22. ^ "National Advertising Division Annual Conference New York, NY. Remarks of David Vladeck, Director FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection" (PDf). October 5, 2009. Retrieved 3/7/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  23. ^ "FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials" (Press release). Federal Trade Commission. 10/5/2009. Retrieved 3/7/2010.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  24. ^ "Remarks of David C. Vladeck to the Electronic Retailing Association, Great Ideas Summit New Orleans, LA: A Look Forward With the FTC: Advertising and Marketing Enforcement Challenges" (PDf). February 3, 2010. Retrieved 3/7/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  25. ^ "FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials" (Press release). Federal Trade Commission. 10/5/2009. Retrieved 3/7/2010.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  26. ^ Shafer, Jack (October 7, 2009). "The FTC's Mad Power Grab: The commission's preposterous new endorsement guidelines". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 3/7/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)