FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez today announced her resignation from the Commission effective February 10, 2017. Ramirez became Chairwoman on March 4, 2013, and has served as an FTC Commissioner since April 5, 2010, following her appointment by President Barack Obama. "It has been the honor of a lifetime to lead the Federal Trade Commission and to have played a role in advancing American consumers’ ability to navigate fast-paced digital markets and promoting business competition across the economy," Ramirez said in an FTC news release. "I thank my fellow Commissioners and all of the talented FTC staff for their support and dedicated public service during my tenure."
Chairwoman Ramirez prioritized the protection of consumers and the promotion of competition in the technology and healthcare sectors, safeguarding consumer privacy and data security in the online world, and protecting diverse communities from deceptive and unfair practices and scams, the news release stated. Under her leadership, the FTC brought nearly 400 law enforcement actions on consumer protection issues and approximately 100 enforcement actions that challenged anticompetitive mergers and business conduct in major sectors of the economy, including the retail, energy, pharmaceutical, and healthcare provider markets. Those law enforcement actions secured billions of dollars in redress for harmed consumers and stopped anticompetitive corporate mergers that would have caused price increases, compromised quality, or hurt innovation.
The actions on the behalf of consumers included a $10 billion settlement with Volkswagen Group of America, in 2016, to compensate consumers who were deceived by VW’s "clean diesel" advertising campaign; a $1.2 billion dollar settlement with a pharmaceutical company for delaying generic competition for a sleep disorder drug; a $200 million dollar settlement with Herbalife over deceptive business practices; and reimbursements of tens of millions of dollars to consumers whose mobile phone bills were "crammed" with unauthorized charges. In enforcing the antitrust and consumer protection laws, Chairwoman Ramirez "ensured that the FTC was always prepared to litigate when necessary to stop anticompetitive and deceptive or unfair business practices that would harm consumers."
Significant FTC actions included the agency’s successful challenges to the mergers of Sysco and U.S. Foods, Staples and Office Depot, and several hospital mergers. The FTC also won an action against Amazon.com for its unauthorized charges in children’s apps, and a federal appeals court decision in the Wyndham Hotels case, upholding the FTC’s authority to bring enforcement actions for unreasonable data security practices, the FTC noted.
In addition to a robust law enforcement program, the FTC under Chairwoman Ramirez’s leadership "continued to urge states to adopt procompetitive, pro-consumer measures," such as those allowing "sharing economy" platforms to participate in the market, and ensuring that licensing regimes did not unduly restrict providers of lower cost services. Another priority for Chairwoman Ramirez has been expanding the FTC’s role in studying markets and emerging trends, and issuing reports that provide best practice recommendations to companies. The FTC has issued reports on a wide range of key topics, the press release explained, including patent assertion entities, the sharing economy, the Internet of Things, and big data.
Chairwoman Ramirez became the first FTC Chair to receive a Trumpeter Award from the National Consumers League—in 2015—in recognition of her leadership and commitment to protecting American consumers and working families.
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