Phyllis is counsel to the firm’s global competition team, where her practice focuses on advertising, marketing and consumer protection issues. She also counsels clients on compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule and managing related enforcement actions. In addition, she advises clients on cutting-edge privacy issues relating to mobile commerce and mobile applications. Phyllis joined Hunton & Williams LLP from the Federal Trade Commission, where she held numerous leadership positions during her longstanding tenure, handling both advertising and marketing issues, and privacy matters (with a focus on children’s privacy).
Phyllis is also a regular contributor to the firm’s Retail Industry Blog, commenting on topics related to Consumer Protection.
Phyllis has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and NPR Marketplace. She is frequently sought after to speak on consumer protection issues, such as protecting children online, the COPPA Rule and other FTC advertising initiatives and enforcement actions.
Phyllis was a law clerk to Judge John C. Eldridge of the Maryland Court of Appeals.
Advertising and Consumer Protection Experience
Most recently, Phyllis served as the Chief of Staff of the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Division of Advertising Practices. In that role, she oversaw the FTC’s advertising workload, handled congressional matters, wrote high profile speeches and testimony regarding FTC advertising initiatives, and led several FTC investigations involving deceptive health claims, endorsements and disclosures.
While in the Division of Advertising Practices, Phyllis also served as a member of the alcohol advertising team, advising industry members on application of and adherence to self-regulatory guidelines. Prior to joining the Division of Advertising Practices, Phyllis served as Counselor to the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection from late 2001 through early 2006, and as a staff attorney in the Division of Enforcement from 1998 through 2001.
Phyllis’s advertising cases brought at the FTC include:
- FTC v. Rise-N-Shine, LLC (Go Away Gray) (2015) and FTC v. GetAwayGrey, LLC (2015). Settlement of charges against two marketers of dietary supplements for deceptive efficacy and establishment claims in violation of Sec. 5 and 12 of the FTC Act.
- FTC v. Mega Furniture, Inc. (2000) and FTC v. Nueva Furniture, Inc. (E.D.N.Y. 2000). Settlement of charges that retailers were mislabeling used mattresses as new in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.
- US v. CD Now, Inc. (2000). $300,000 civil penalty settlement against online retailer for violations of Mail and Telephone Order Rule during the 1999 holiday shopping season by providing buyers inadequate notice of shipping delays.
- FTC v. Model 1, Inc. (1999). Co-counsel in litigation against modeling agency for deceptive scouting practices.
From 2006 to 2013, Phyllis led the FTC’s children’s online privacy program. In this capacity, Phyllis was responsible for bringing a host of civil penalty actions enforcing the COPPA Rule, including the first $1 million COPPA civil penalty and a subsequent record-setting $3 million penalty. She regularly advised industry members on the scope and implementation of COPPA, and briefed congressional staff and representatives of foreign consumer protection and privacy bodies on US children’s privacy initiatives. Phyllis led the 2010-2012 team responsible for overhauling the COPPA Rule, and has a keen understanding of the complexities of the revised regulations.
Phyllis’s children’s privacy enforcement matters brought at the FTC include:
- US v. Artist Arena, LLC (2012). Obtained $1 million civil penalty against operator of teen-oriented celebrity fan sites.
- US v. Jones O. Godwin d/b/a skid-e-kids.com (2011). Obtained $100,000 civil penalty against operator of child-directed social network.
- US v. Playdom, Inc. (2011). Obtained record-setting $3 million civil penalty against operator of 20 online virtual worlds.
- US v. Iconix Brand Group (2009). Obtained $250,000 civil penalty settlement against teen apparel marketer.
- US v. Sony BMG Music Entertainment (2008). Obtained $1 million civil penalty settlement against operator of music fan websites.
- US v. Industrious Kid, Inc. (2008). Obrtained $130,000 civil penalty settlement against child-directed social network.
- US v. Xanga.com (2006). Obtained FTC’s first $1 million civil penalty enforcing COPPA Rule against then third-largest social network.