February 26, 2013
Professor David Vladeck, who served as the director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection for four years, lectured in a segment of McGeorge's Ethics Across the Professions Initiative on Feb. 20.
Vladeck, co-director of the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center, spoke on the topic of "Completely Clueless or Completely Venal: Regulators, Wrongdoing and Corporate Responses to the Federal Trade Commission."
The Bureau of Consumer Protection's attorneys enforce federal laws related to consumer affairs under FTC rules. Its functions include investigations, enforcement actions, and consumer and business education. In addition to monitoring advertising and marketing, it probes false claims involving financial products and practices, uncovers telemarketing fraud, and oversees privacy and identity protection.
Reflecting on his recent four-year stint with the bureau, Vladeck juxtaposed obvious cases of fraud involving such things as fanciful weight-loss programs against the illegal gathering of private information done unwittingly on occasion by high-tech companies, small and large.
"It's a simple decision to go after the fraudsters who prey on the weak and the elderly," Vladeck said. "But what do you say to the young, high-tech innovators who are accidentally tapping into private information. Obviously, you tell them not to do it again, but to literally make a federal case of it you'd be ruining some people's careers."
Vladeck has an impressive resume outside of academia. He spent more than 25 years with Public Citizen Litigation Group, handling and supervising complex litigation that included appearances in front of the Supreme Court of the United States, before joining the Georgetown faculty.
Laurel Terry, the Harvey A. Feldman Distinguished Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law, was the first Ethics Across the Professions speaker this spring. She spoke on "Building a Global Network Lawyer Regulators and Why It Matters" on Jan. 9, 2013.
Professor Paul Paton, the vice provost of the University of the Pacific and director of the Ethics Across the Professions Initiative, introduced Vladeck's talk.