Director of Health Communication
Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
May 11, 2001 12:00 p.m.
Colonial Penn Center Auditorium
(3641 Locust Walk)
Mr. Cleland joined the Federal Trade Commission's Division of Advertising Practices in 1991. In 1996, Mr. Cleland was appointed Assistant to the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection and in 1998, he was appointed Assistant Director of the Division of Service Industry Practices. He currently serves as a senior staff attorney in the Division of Advertising Practices. His primary area of expertise is the advertising and marketing of health care products and services. He supervises many of the Commission's health-care related Internet initiatives, including Operation Cure. All, a consumer education and law enforcement program targeted at the fraudulent marketing of health care products on the Internet. Prior to joining the Federal Trade Commission, Mr. Cleland served as Special Assistant Attorney General and Director of the Division of Consumer Protection in the Iowa Attorney Generals Office.
Over 50 million U.S. adults have used the Internet to look for health information. Most report positive experiences but concerns about quality and privacy remain strong. Government agencies have initiated aggressive programs to promote privacy and protect consumers from web sites making deceptive product/service claims and marketing unapproved products, but have had only a limited effect to date. Private health initiatives, such as the AMA, HiEthics, and the eHealthcode Initiative, with much broader reach than government agencies, have stepped forward to promote ethical standards for health web sites. These initiatives hold substantial promise for Internet users, but whether a significant number of web sites adopt these standards remains to be seen. From the consumer perspective, the promise of the Internet is to empower them to become full partners in their health care management. But consumers armed with inaccurate information are not empowered, they are endangered. These concerns, and others, will shape both the agenda and the future of the Internet health space.
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