The Federal Trade Commission today issued a report to Congress stating that the U.S. SAFE WEB Act -- which empowers the FTC to work cooperatively with foreign law enforcement agencies to pursue cross-border cases -- is working and shouldn't be allowed to expire as scheduled in 2013.
report on the U.S. Safe Web Act (PDF) details how the agency has used its new authority to protect consumers in the global economy.
For example, the report says, the FTC took advantage of the legislation to share nonpublic information with foreign authorities, including the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, to shut down a vast international spam network that sent billions of e-mails peddling bogus products to U.S. and foreign consumers.
The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs provided the FTC with substantial investigative assistance and, as a result of this cooperation, both the FTC and the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs initiated successful enforcement actions shutting down the fraudulent operation, the report says. In addition to other relief, the FTC obtained a $15.15 million default judgment against the principal operator of the global spam network in FTC v. Atkinson.
The report makes clear that this kind of cross-border cooperation is critical to the FTC's ability to combat growing global scams. It also provides data on the number of cross-border complaints received by the Commission; a description of specific cases in which the FTC worked cooperatively with foreign agencies; and the number of times the FTC has issued compulsory process on behalf of foreign agencies.
The FTC recommends in the report that Congress take immediate action to repeal a "sunset" provision that would cause the Act to expire in 2013. "The FTC's ability to protect consumers in a global economy would be significantly hampered if the Act were to expire," the report says.
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