With Departure of Consumer Bureau Director Jessica Rich, Future of FTC’s Commitment to Protect the Public Now Uncertain
By: Jeff Chester | Feb 8 2017
Statement of Jeff Chester, Executive Director
Center for Digital Democracy
February 7, 2017
For more than a quarter-century, Jessica Rich has played a critical leadership role at the Federal Trade Commission. She has made major contributions to the commission’s work on privacy and consumer protection—from leading the development of the rules for the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), to conducting a series of recent enforcement actions to curb deceptive and unfair digital marketing practices that harm consumers’ credit and financial well-being. Rich has been particularly instrumental in holding corporate special interests accountable by bringing cases against Volkswagen, Western Union, Herbalife, Google, Amazon, Apple, and other companies.
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. At this critical moment, the agency must demonstrate courage and independence, standing up for consumer rights, and resisting any efforts to force a retreat from its public interest mandate.