FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen Kicks Off Conversation with DSEF on Consumer Protection in the 21st Century

Washington, D.C., April 7, 2015 – Today, the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) convenes an interactive roundtable discussion where industry leaders will focus on the latest consumer protection issues, including the important role of self-regulation.

The roundtable is moderated by George Washington University Professor Dr. Howard Beales, former director of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection, and FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen will provide opening remarks. The panel includes DSA’s Joseph Mariano, along with Lynne Omlie, senior vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), and C. Lee Peeler, chief executive officer of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC).

“As expectations for consumer protection evolve, so does our Code of Ethics,” said president of the Direct Selling Association (DSA) Joseph N. Mariano. “Later this year, we will further strengthen these best-in-class consumer protections by introducing greater transparency around enforcement and enhancing protections against false earnings claims. We choose to lead by example so every direct selling company in the United States has an incentive to do better by its customers. That’s why today’s discussion is so important.”

As consumer expectations for corporate responsibility grow and change, consumer-facing industries must lead in promoting the highest ethical commitments from their members.

“For more than 80 years, the distilled spirits industry has had a voluntary advertising Code in place with the core principle of ensuring responsible advertising directed to adults,” said DISCUS’ Lynne Omlie.

“Our Code is a living document that has evolved over time as social mores and technology change, reflecting our industry’s steadfast commitment to effective self-regulation in both traditional and emerging marketing platforms.”

The industries agree that meeting the needs of the 21st century consumers is best achieved through self-regulation.

“Self-regulation allows us the flexibility to quickly be responsive to both consumers and the marketplace,” said ASRC’s Lee Peeler. “Today’s discussion is an excellent opportunity to share best practices in three successful self-regulation models and how we might adjust our approaches to better meet the needs of consumers.”

DSEF is hosting the event as a follow up to the FTC’s National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW).

“American consumers deserve the highest level of ethics from companies they do business with. A commitment to effective self-regulation by industry leaders is critical to safeguarding their rights,” said DSEF’s Gary Huggins. “We thank FTC for its tireless work on behalf of consumers and look forward to continuing to work with regulators and industry colleagues to ensure consumer protections remain a fundamental goal.”

For 15 years, DSEF has partnered with FTC during NCPW to empower consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their rights and make better-informed decisions, including producing a Consumer Protection Toolkit that can be accessed at www.dsef.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/DSEF-Consumer-Protection-Toolkit.pdf.

About DSEF

The Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF), is a non-profit that advances understanding of direct selling and promotes the industry’s commitment to ethics, consumer protection and self-regulation. Nearly 17 million Americans are involved in direct selling in every state, Congressional district and community in the United States. In 2013, direct selling contributed more than $32 billion to the U.S. economy.