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LOS ANGELES — Attorneys for years have been preaching to their clients that the biggest potential threat to online commerce is the Federal Trade Commission.

Armed with laws like the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, known as ROSCA, the federal agency has powers that are immensely broad and have the ability to punish and potentially leave businesses broke and shuttered.

ROSCA targets several commonly used marketing practices, including so-called “negative options,” and effectively put a clamp on traditional cross-sells by prohibiting merchants from sharing a customer’s billing information with other merchants. The law was signed by President Obama in 2010.

In a new development announced today, the FTC said that it obtained a preliminary injunction halting AH Media Group’s deceptive “free trial” offers after the agency alleged that the online retailer defrauded consumers nationwide out of more than $35 million through illegal credit and debit card charges.



Rhett Pardon is a longtime business journalist who has focused on adult entertainment legal matters since the early 1990s. Got a tip? Send them his way (