Friday, February 1, 2013

FTC chairman resigns after 4 years of online privacy battles

FTC chairman resigns after 4 years of online privacy battles

FTC chairman resigns after 4 years of online privacy battles

An aggressive defender of online privacy, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chief Jon Leibowitz will be leaving his post later this month after vigorously battling everyone from generic drug companies to social networking giant Facebook.

The New York Times reported Thursday that FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz has resigned from his position, effective mid-February, ending a four-year battle for consumer online privacy protection.

Among them are alleged violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protections Act (COPPA) against social network Path, who reached a settlement Friday after addressing concerns over children under 13 being permitted to sign up for the service.

"I felt like this was a good time to leave because we got through a number of things that I wanted the commission to address," Leibowitz explained in an interview.

What's next

The FTC chairman's most recent high profile case put Google's search results under the microsocope, an effort which ultimately led to voluntary changes that fell short of what consumer advocates had been hoping for.

Advertisers claimed Google had been giving higher priority to companies whose interests aligned with theirs, at the same time reducing the presence of competitors.

Five FTC commissioners were unanimous in their decision that the company's actions actually benefitted users, even though some were consid ered less than helpful to the competition.

The departure of 54-year-old Leibowitz had been widely expected, and the chairman now plans a move into the private sector, where he'll continue his laser focus on privacy issues and anticompetitive practices.

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