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Internet Lab

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Historical background Edit

To keep pace with rapidly changing Internet-related technology, the Federal Trade Commission established an Internet Lab in 1999. Equipped with state-of-the-art personal computers, the Lab provided a resource for ongoing efforts to educate the Commission about new media and to search for fraud and deception in a secure environment. It provided the necessary equipment and software to capture websites and preserve them as evidence for presentation in court.

Today Edit

Today, the Internet Law is operated by the Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP). The Lab comprises two main lab facilities in Washington, D.C., as well as eight “satellite locations” (one in each of the FTC’s regional offices), all of which are secured within FTC buildings or offices. The Lab is managed by BCP’s Division of Planning and Information (DPI). DPI and the FTC’s Office of Information Technology Management (OITM) staff work together to maintain the Lab.

The Lab is primarily used by law enforcers (e.g. attorneys, investigators, paralegals) in the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, and by technologists in DPI. On occasion, the Lab may also be used by authorized law enforcement partners (e.g., the Department of Justice), and by staff in other FTC offices – e.g., the FTC’s Bureau of Competition (BC), the Office of General Counsel (OGC), the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the Office of International Affairs (OIA), the Bureau of Economics (BE), and OITM. In addition, the FTC may retain experts or contractors who may be given access to the Lab.

Data collection Edit

The Lab is used to collect and preserve information that is available on the Internet. Information that is collected may include content freely available on the Internet or online content which is only offered through paid/premium services. This information may include website content, including personally identifiable information that may be included on the site, as well as usage data and statistics, IP addresses and domain name registration and ownership information.

Authorization for data collection Edit

Information is collected in the Lab pursuant to the FTC’s general law enforcement and investigatory authority, which is primarily set forth in the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. §§41-58. Other statutes include the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), 15 U.S.C. §§6501, the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM Act), 15 U.S.C §§7701-7713, the Identity Theft Assumption and Deterrence Act of 1998, 18 U.S.C. § 1028 note, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, 31 U.S.C. 5361 et seq., the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), 15 U.S.C. §§1601-1667f, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. §§1681-1681(u), the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. §§1692-1692o, the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act (TCFAPA), 15 U.S.C. §§6101-6108, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), 15 U.S.C. §§6801-6809 and §§6821-6827, and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA), 15 U.S.C. §§1681-1681x.

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