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New FTC rule aims to preserve confidentiality of investigations


WASHINGTON—The Federal Trade Commission on Friday said it is establishing streamlined procedures to help maintain the confidentiality of its ongoing investigations.

Separately, the agency said on Friday it has proposed changes to expedite investigatory processes and keep pace with technology.

The FTC said it has approved a new rule that streamlines internal procedures for its staff to seek court orders “that prevent certain FTC investigation targets from learning about subpoenas and civil investigative demands that seek information about their activities.”

The FTC said the new rule “will improve efficiency and help safeguard the confidential nature of ongoing agency investigations.”

The agency said under the new rule, either an individual commissioner or the agency's general counsel can authorize FTC staff to file court actions, when necessary, that seek to delay notifying investigation targets that subpoenas and CIDs have been used, and that prohibit subpoena and CID recipients from disclosing to targets they have been used.

“This will help the agency prevent likely fraudsters from discovering that the FTC has requested information about them from third parties, when such disclosure would tip them off, or otherwise jeopardize the internal investigation,” said the FTC in its statement.

Separately, the FTC said it is seeking public comment on proposed changes to its processes that would streamline its investigatory procedures, make updates to keep pace with electronic discovery and detail the agency’s procedures for evaluating allegations of misconduct by attorneys practicing before the commission.

Copies of the proposal are at

Comments, which can be made until March 23, can be submitted electronically at