Regulation

Thomas Pahl Named Acting Head Of FTC Consumer Protection Department

The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection has a new acting head. Thomas Pahl was named by acting chairman of the FTC, Maureen Ohlhausen.

Prior to his role in the Federal Trade Commission, Pahl worked on the Senate Judiciary Committee during Senator Orrin Hatch’s chairmanship. Pahl was also managing counsel to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under former President Obama.

Pahl is a well-known supporter of free-market and deregulatory policies and has, in the past, spoken out about the need to potentially scale back the power of the CFPB.

“I think there’s going to be a change in the senior leadership of the CFPB very soon, and with that change in leadership there will be a greater opportunity to raise concerns with the agency about costs and unintended consequences of its policy choices, especially when it involves newer technologies,” Pahl told Bloomberg BNA in November.

Pahl replaces Jessica Rich as director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Rich leaves behind a long legacy for Pahl to step into, as she served within the FTC for over two and a half decades.

“She is a pioneer in consumer protection who spearheaded major initiatives regarding consumers’ privacy, data security, and financial transactions. Many of the FTC’s programs bear her indelible mark,” Ohlhausen noted of Rich’s departure.

The move to replace the longtime employee with an acting head with a much narrower view of consumer protection legislation has moved some, particularly in the consumer advocate community, to express concerns about how consumer rights will fair during the Trump administration.

“Rich’s departure raises serious concerns about the future of the FTC under the Trump administration. We fear that the agency will retreat from its central consumer-protection mission, by weakening the standards for regulatory safeguards, failing to address new cases brought to the agency, and ignoring the growing arsenal of disturbing Big Data practices that pose far-reaching threats to the public’s privacy, health, and security,” noted Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.

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