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October 31, 2016

Earlier today, the Canadian Competition Bureau (Bureau) announced that its most recent annual Internet advertising sweep focused on false or misleading online endorsements (see: Annual Internet Sweep Focuses on Online Reviews and Endorsements).

The Bureau said that this year’s annual Internet sweep was aimed at “identifying websites that may use online reviews or endorsements as part of their business model”. It also suggested that enforcement following its review of its sweep may range from formal investigations to warning letters to companies.

The Bureau participates in annual Internet advertising sweeps together with other major global competition/antitrust enforcement agencies through the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN).

This year’s Bureau Internet sweep follows the recent publication of ICPEN’s Online Reviews and Endorsement Guidelines (for my earlier post on ICPEN’s guidelines, see: New Online Reviews and Endorsements Guidelines Give Practical Guidance to Marketers, Reflect Competition Bureau Policies).

Previous Bureau online sweeps have focused on fraudulent and deceptive advertising on social media sites, online deceptive marketing practices aimed at vulnerable consumers, misleading and inadequate information disclosure in the content of children’s online games and applications, online and mobile fraud and loan and grant scams, among other things.

The digital economy remains a top advertising law enforcement priority for the Bureau. More specific focuses for the Bureau in this area include false or misleading endorsements/testimonials (sometimes referred to as astroturfing), online price claims, drip pricing (i.e., only disclosing part of a total price for a product/service upfront) and online disclaimers.

For a few of my earlier posts on online endorsements and other online misleading advertising issues, see: Canada Increases Scrutiny of Online Paid Endorsements, New International Online Reviews and Endorsement Guidelines Give Practical Guidance to Marketers, Reflect Competition Bureau Policies, Four Year Mobile Cramming Case Ends With $11 Million Bell, Trade Association Settlements, $7.3 Million Settlement in Mobile Cramming Case: Cautionary Tale for Partnering with Affiliates? and U.S. FTC Updates Its FAQs on Endorsements and Testimonials in Social Media.

For some summaries of important recent Canadian online misleading advertising cases, see: here, here and here.

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    WELCOME TO THE CANADIAN COMPETITION & REGULATORY LAW BLOG

    I am a competition and advertising lawyer based in Toronto who blogs on competition and advertising law and interesting legal and policy developments relating to business, white-collar crime, corruption and Internet and new media law.

    I offer business, association, government and individual clients efficient and strategic advice in relation to competition/antitrust, advertising, regulatory and new media law. I also offer compliance, education and policy services.

    My more than 15 years experience includes advising clients on hundreds of domestic and cross-border competition, advertising and marketing, promotional contest/sweepstakes, conspiracy/cartel, abuse of dominance, compliance, refusal to deal and pricing and distribution matters.

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