Statement on Edith Ramirez resignation

By: Jeff Chester | Jan 14 2017
Leaves a strong consumer protection legacy for 21st Century

Edith Ramirez brought the FTC into the 21st century. Under her leadership, the agency made it clear that new technologies had to treat consumers fairly, including when it came to protecting their privacy. Through enforcement, litigation, and publicly exposing new threats, Edith Ramirez’s commission has created a unique consumer protection legacy that will have a long-lasting and positive impact. Ramirez’s tenure has also been marked by a strong commitment to protecting economically vulnerable and other at-risk consumers, including those who reflect the country’s diversity.

More than any other federal agency, Ramirez’s FTC understood how the emerging “Internet of Things”—where we are always connected online—provided both a promise and a threat. Through a series of cutting-edge cases—Snapchat, D-Link, inMobi and Turn, for example—the commission made it clear that tech companies that deceived consumers or failed to protect their security would be punished and publicly shamed. Companies, including Amazon, Google and Apple, that failed to ensure that consumers who purchased apps had been treated fairly had to change their practices. New and deceptive ways in how companies advertise to the public also came under her scrutiny, including the role of “influencers.” Cases included Machinima and Warner Brothers, for example. Ramirez assembled a highly effective and strategic consumer protection team, led by bureau director Jessica Rich.

The commission played a major role in the $10 billion settlement with Volkswagen, and also pursued cases where vulnerable consumers had been financially harmed (such as DeVry University and Cancer Fund of America). It also took on challenging cases to make it clear that the agency had the authority and responsibility to proactively act in the best interests of consumers (e.g., Wyndham, Herbalife, and Lifelock).

Ramirez cast a spotlight on emerging privacy issues involving “smart TV’s,” cross-device tracking, and other technologies. The agency also created a new Office of Technology Research and Investigations, within the Bureau of Consumer Protection, to stay on top of digital media and data developments.

Finally, Edith Ramirez understood that all Americans require effective consumer protection. Under her leadership, the FTC expressly reached out to Hispanics, African Americans, and others in order to involve them in the work of the commission.

Jeff Chester, CDD

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