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FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz to Step Down This Month

6 Feb, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

WASHINGTON – The head of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will leave his post on February 15. Chairman Jon Leibowitz announced on Feb. 1 he would step down after nine years on the commission. He served as chair since March 2009.

In a press release, Leibowitz said that he’d been honored to “head this extraordinary, bipartisan Commission. Our small but mighty agency has safeguarded the privacy of Americans and stopped predatory financial practices by companies taking advantage of cash-strapped consumers. Our antitrust enforcement has helped contain health care and drug costs, and helped reduce prices and increase innovation for smartphones, computer chips and other high-tech products.”

During his tenure as chair, he made enforcement a major priority: the FTC filed more than 50 law enforcement actions to stop “last dollar” scams that prey on consumers in financial distress, such as foreclosure “rescue” and mortgage modification schemes, phony debt-reduction and credit-repair services, and bogus government grant opportunities, job scams, and get-rich quick frauds, with many state Attorneys General as partners.

Some of the other FTC accomplishments under Leibowitz include:

  • Raising the profile of privacy practices through law enforcement, consumer education and policy initiatives.
  • Overseeing a landmark report setting forth best privacy practices for businesses and updated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule that strengthens kids’ privacy by requiring that companies get parents’ permission before collecting personal information from their children under 13.
  • Returning nearly $108 million to more than 450,000 consumers – about 1 percent of all mortgage holders in the United States – who allegedly were overcharged or had their mortgage loans mishandled by Countrywide while they were in default or bankruptcy.
  • Taking aggressive, bipartisan action to stop sweetheart deals in which branded drug manufacturers allegedly paid potential generic rivals to delay their introduction of lower-cost pharmaceuticals – deals that the agency estimates cost consumers and taxpayers billions of dollars annually.
  • Continuing to identify and challenge health care mergers that would harm competition and drive up the cost of health care for both consumers and employers.
  • Ensuring that competition continued to thrive in the tech industry. In addition to a settlement with Google, the Commission reached another landmark agreement that prevented Intel Corp. from suppressing competition in the market for computer chips and opened the door to renewed competition.
  • Reining in alleged misuse of standard-essential patents, which could lead to patent hold-up and ultimately higher prices for popular devices such as smart phones, laptop and tablet computers, and gaming consoles.
  • Launching an initiative to enhance its longstanding program to make sure the agency’s rules are up-to-date, effective and not overly burdensome.

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