Sunday, May 23, 2010

Regulating Commerce Among the Several States

The founder of LifeLock, who put his own Social Security number in advertisements to display his confidence in the product he was shilling, had his identity stolen at least a dozen times. As the glaring flaws in the product didn't stop the sales pitch,

[t]he company was fined $12 million in March by the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive advertising.

Lifelock promised in ads that its $10 monthly service would protect consumers from identity theft. The company also offered a $1 million guarantee to compensate customers for losses incurred if they became a victim after signing up for the service. The FTC called the claims bogus and accused LifeLock of operating a scam.
Judging from the ugly, sleazy, corrupt commerce that pass routinely beneath the attention of regulators, it evidently takes a lot to get the attention of the FTC, so it's reasonable to suppose the depth of LifeLock's abuses go far deeper.

The great comedian Bill Hicks had this sort of thing in mind when he asked people in advertising or marketing to kill themselves. He was probably joking.

It is encouraging to know that the FTC continues to exist and, in some cases, here and there, enforce a few rules -- and too bad this seems to apply to relatively small players such as LifeLock. Meanwhile, down south, BP and its partners continue their keystone cops cleanup routine as the federal government does little more than photograph the damage, run its own parallel public relations campaign, and announce forthcoming inquests in, no doubt, a stern tone of voice.

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