Could Be Partisan Bickering over Who Will Replace Leibowitz on FTC

By Ed Silverstein February 04, 2013

Jon Leibowitz will soon be stepping down as chairman of the powerful Federal Trade Commission as the future of the FTC could rest with his successor’s approach to regulation.

So far, no frontrunner has emerged to take his place as head of the regulatory body. There could be pressure to appoint a woman to lead the commission, given the relatively small number of women now in the Obama Cabinet.

That leads speculation to two FTC members, Julie Brill and Edith Ramirez, both Democrats.

Howard Shelanski, in charge of the FTC's economics bureau; and Philip J. Weiser, dean of the University of Colorado law school, may also be considered as FTC members, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Someone could be named by mid-February.

The Washington Post reported that it may take several months for a new FTC commissioner to be confirmed by Congress. There could be a partisan battle as to who gets approved.

The FTC was in the news recently after it reached a settlement with Google over antitrust issues. Consumer advocates argued the settlement did not go far enough. Google had been investigated for 20 months by the FTC over the company apparently favoring its own services in search results.

The company agreed to various voluntary changes to settle the case.

During Leibowitz’s watch, the FTC addressed online privacy for children, the microprocessor market involving Intel, other tech issues (including those involving Facebook) and the healthcare industry.

Mobile tech was another sector addressed by the FTC, and a new mobile privacy policy is forthcoming.

“I felt like this was a good time to leave because we got through a number of things that I wanted the commission to address,” Leibowitz was quoted by The New York Times.

But the FTC also showed reluctance to weigh in on several corporate issues, such as letting stand a $29-billion merger of Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions during 2012.

Leibowitz was an FTC commissioner before becoming chairman in 2009. Earlier he worked as a staff attorney for the U.S. Senate, often on technology, telecom and antitrust issues. He is likely to enter the private sector.

Edited by Braden Becker

TechZone360 Contributor

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