Federal Trade Commission Act 38 Stat. 717 (1914)
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION ACT 38 Stat. 717 (1914)
When the decisions in standard oil company v. united states (1911) and United States v. American Tobacco (1911) demonstrated that trusts could be dissolved, public calls for a policy regulating combinations and monopolies increased. Responding to President woodrow wilson's appeal, Congress created the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on September 26, 1914. The act created no criminal offenses; the commission would advise business on how to conform to a policy of competition. Congress vested the commission with broad powers of investigation and recommendation regarding enforcement of the antitrust laws, but the act did not cover banks or common carriers. (See interstate commerce act.) Consisting of five commissioners, the FTC is a quasi-judicial tribunal whose findings of fact, if supported by testimony, are binding on the courts and whose decisions are reviewable there.
In furtherance of its goal of fostering competition, section 5 stated that "unfair methods of competition in commerce and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce are hereby declared illegal." Intentionally vague, this provision relied on judicial decisions and experience to give it meaning. By outlawing methods, it improved upon earlier statutes which prohibited only specific acts. Other sections (6 and 9) granted the commission power to require compliance: it could require written responses to inquiries, secure access to corporate books and records, and subpoena witnesses.