Senators Strongly Support FTC’s Finalized Rule that Covers Online and Physical Labels
WASHINGTON, DC – July 7, 2021 – Today, U.S Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) applauded a new, finalized rule from Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to strengthen their Made in USA label enforcement. The senators have led efforts in pressing the FTC to utilize all of their existing authority to establish and enforce Made in USA standards, and to apply them to online and physical labels. Last year, the senators wrote a letter to the commissioners of the FTC supporting the FTC’s initiation of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) process.
“For too long, American companies have fraudulently affixed ‘Made in America’ labels to foreign-made products, undermining the workers in Ohio and across the country,” said Brown. “This rule is a big step in the right direction, affirming our Made in USA laws, and making clear the U.S. takes these harmful practices seriously and will help keep Ohio workers on the job.”
“We have been pushing the FTC to strengthen their Made in USA label enforcement and crack down on violators. Regardless of whether shopping in a store or online, Americans have a right to know whether the products they buy are in fact being made right here in America, by American workers. This action by the FTC is an important step forward and will help send a message that abusive mislabeling practices by defrauders will not be accepted.” said Baldwin.
“The new FTC rule is good news for Connecticut workers, manufacturers and consumers. Companies that lie about their products being made in America must be held accountable, and strengthening enforcement of ‘Made in USA’ labels will protect American jobs,” said Murphy.
“Anyone lying about Made in USA should be made to pay,” said Blumenthal. “The new FTC rule is a positive step to protect American jobs and consumers, but effective enforcement is the key. I’ll continue to fight for even more aggressive action to stop fraudulent Made in USA claims.”
In October of 2019, the senators wrote the FTC urging the promulgation of a rule to “codify the current Made in the USA standard and, more importantly, clarify when violators will face civil penalties.” The senators have asked the Commission to ensure the final rule accomplishes both of these goals.
Until now, the Commission has narrowly interpreted the word “label” to those physically applied to goods, which limits the Commission’s ability to enforce Made in USA requirements in e-commerce. Consumers purchasing goods online, however, are given information about products in various forms on websites, including product filters, technical specifications, and other sources. In an online transaction, all of these details about the product’s origin may have the same impact on a consumer as a physical label attached to the product. The senators’ letter pushed the FTC to ensure the final Made in USA rule applies to physical labels and any online product description or marketing.
In October of 2018, the Senators wrote to the FTC and referenced instances where companies had fraudulently affixed “Made in America” labels to foreign-made products. The senators said mislabeling products not only misleads consumers but also harms American businesses. The senators urged the FTC to consider monetary penalties as well as admission of guilt settlements for companies that import products from countries like China and then commit these label violations. The senators followed-up in February of 2019, demanding increased transparency and stronger enforcement against violators, in addition to requesting additional information regarding the FTC’s enforcement actions against companies that commit “Made in the USA” labeling violations, since little information has been available to date.