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Ad Age, Communications Daily, InternetNews.com, Washington Internet Daily and other publications quoted Venable partner Stu Ingis in April 19 stories about advertisers’ concern that a proposed amendment to the fast moving financial regulation bill could expand dramatically the rulemaking powers for the Federal Trade Commission.

Although FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz has promised advertisers the he will not regulate behavioral targeting under the expanded authority, many advertisers are uneasy and plan to ask the Senate leadership to halt any effort to include an expansion of the FTC's powers in the bill.

In a letter to be sent to lawmakers next week, the Direct Marketing Association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and other industry associations, will tell lawmakers that any effort to enhance the FTC's authority should be considered as a separate issue from the broader financial overhaul.

Ingis told Communications Daily that the FTC's work in December developing nutrition standards for food advertising, which was authorized in an appropriations bill, provides "the first hint of what they were thinking about" under the authority that could be granted by the amendment to the financial reform bill. He added that the December nutrition standards apply a "finer screen" to advertising than the USDA and FDA have ever attempted.

With the proposed amendment’s removal of current requirements that the FTC build a "record of substantial evidence" to justify regulation against a "prevalent" activity, it's not hard to imagine the FTC devising "draconian" ad rules, Ingis said.