Post-Election

FTC Chairwoman Ramirez To Leave Agency

Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez disclosed Friday (Jan. 13) that she will step down as the head of the FTC .

According to a report by The Washington Post, Ramirez will stay on the job until President-Elect Donald Trump names his own FTC chair. She plans to leave the FTC entirely on Feb. 10. The report noted Maureen Ohlhausen, the only Republican serving at the FTC, is expected to be named the next chairwoman.

Under the charge of Ramirez, The Washington Post reported, the FTC gained a reputation as an important regulator for the technology sector. Take the cellphone market, for one example. The report pointed out the FTC has been pivotal in cracking down on cellphone carriers, including AT&T and T-Mobile, getting $170 million back for consumers in the form of third-party charges. In another example, the FTC put pressure on Apple and Amazon to overhaul their billing practices following on the heels of an onslaught of consumer complaints. In 2014, Ramirez and the FTC went after Snapchat for a hack that impacted 4.6 million account holders and made data security and hacking a regulatory issue for companies.

“Given the significant role technology plays in consumers’ lives, today, we’ve placed an emphasis on ensuring that fundamental consumer protection rules apply in the digital sphere,” said Ramirez in the report.

In addition to cracking down on technology companies and making data security an important regulatory issue, the FTC under Ramirez also published studies and guidelines for the Internet of Things market and rolled out reports on how companies can use data to discriminate. On the critical side, the report pointed out that some contend the FTC didn’t look at the benefits that could come about for consumers for some technology practices the agency deemed unfair, including Apple’s in-app purchases.

“The unfairness standard places the burden on the commission to show the harms of those decisions outweigh the benefits,” said FTC Commissioner Josh Wright in a 2014 speech, reported The Washington Post.

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