FTC Chair Edith Ramirez Steps Down - The Washington Post Article

Article – FTC Chair Edith Ramirez Announces Resignation

According to an article in The Washington Post:

“Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said Friday in an interview that she will soon step down as head of the country’s most powerful consumer watchdog, after serving more than three years in the role and another three years before that as a commissioner.

Ramirez is expected to serve in her current post until President-elect Donald Trump appoints a chair of his own, and she plans to depart the agency completely on Feb. 10. Analysts expect the sole Republican serving at the FTC, Maureen Ohlhausen, to step in as the FTC’s next chairwoman.

Under Ramirez’s leadership, the FTC gained a reputation in Washington as a key technology regulator.

Although most consumers associate Volkswagen’s emissions software scandal with the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Volkswagen owners can credit Ramirez and the FTC for playing an “instrumental” role determining the amount of money VW will ultimately refund to consumers, Ramirez said.

In recent years, the FTC has cracked down on cellphone carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile, refunding, for example, a total of $170 million to Americans to make up for spammy third-party charges customers never asked or signed up for.

The agency pressured Apple and Amazon to change their billing practices after a slew of consumer complaints that the companies had made it far too easy for in-app purchases to drive up credit card bills.

[Amazon unfairly billed parents for their kids’ in-app purchases, a judge rules]

Ramirez also helped turn data security and hacking into a major regulatory issue for companies, going after Snapchat in 2014 for allowing 4.6 million account holders’ information to leak. The FTC’s lawsuit against the prominent hotel chain Wyndham Worldwide Corp. helped underscore that companies can be held responsible for being hacked after misleading customers about the security of their digital systems.

“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.

Ramirez’s agency published groundbreaking studies and guidelines on an emerging class of devices known as the Internet of Things, which promises to turn everyday objects into smart appliances. Other reports by the agency showed how companies could abuse customer data to discriminate, particularly against low-income consumers and minorities.”

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