The SEC, the FDA, and Other Federal Agencies
Although the Federal Trade Commission ( FTC; discussed in chap. 4) is the agency that exercises the most pervasive, day-to-day regulation of commercial speech, numerous other governmental agencies, commissions, and boards retain limited jurisdiction over commercial speech dealing with specific products or services. These include the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as well as a variety of official offices and agencies at the state level.
The workings of the SEC, which oversees the financial regulation of stock markets, as well as the companies and investors that trade securities in these markets, are of vital concern to large segments of both advertising and public relations professionals.
The SEC traces its origins to early attempts to regulate the buying and selling of securities, beginning in the late 1880s. Prior to that time, a pattern of financial good times was invariably followed by economic chaos and a major depression. This recurring cycle of boom-or-bust eventually brought calls for reform of the nation's economic system. Initial efforts at regulation both at the federal and state levels (a discussion of state so-called "Blue Sky" laws is found later in this chapter) proved ineffective, however. It was not until the financial crises that led to the Great Depression in the early 1930s that real reform was accomplished. This began with passage of the Securities Act of 19331 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. 2 The latter act established the SEC and charged