I am very familiar with the FTC and their activities here in DC. I have testified at two of their public hearings over the past several years (Internet privacy and Telemarketing Sales Rules). The FTC is mostly "smoke and mirrors." They have a staff who is mostly concerned about getting a job with the Direct Marketing Association after they leave.|
As for the examples you give of "enforcement action" all they do is go after small violators because they know it won't hurt their relationship with their lobbyists friends (like VeriSign). During the period you discuss the FTC received several serious privacy complaints against companies like Microsoft, AOL, and the like. However, they did get around to taking "enforcement action" on someone who registered 41 variation of the spelling of Britney Spears.
I actually filed a complaint with the FTC concerning the John Zuccarini complaint. The news release and associated complaints was full of false information and ridiculous claims made by the FTC. Their Trademark infringement claims do not take into account well-known court decisions such as the Holiday Inns Inc. v. 800 Reservation Inc case
They also claimed "the FTC estimates that the defendant earns between $800,000 and $1 million annually from his scheme." In fact the FTC didn't estimate anything. This estimate came from an accusation made by a lawyer representing a company suing Zuccarini. that statement was made in court after Zuccarini defaulted. The claim is ridiculous.
The FTC will never take action against Verisign for these activities.