The FTC Gang’s All Here

As we noted in a previous post, the United States Senate has confirmed five new commissioners, bringing a full complement to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Four of those commissioners have taken their seats, with the fifth likely to join in the Fall.

Earlier this month, the “new” FTC signaled a continued commitment to act in the area of data privacy and security by reaching a settlement with a California company regarding false claims regarding compliance with the European Union-United States Privacy Shield framework. According to the FTC’s complaint, the company falsely claimed on its website that it was in the process of certifying compliance with the Privacy Shield framework. While no formal complaint was brought against the company, the commission reviewed the matter and determined that it had reason to believe a FTCA violation occurred, which resulted in the settlement agreement.

The new FTC Chairman, Joe Simmons, issued a statement confirming the FTC’s authority in this area: “Today’s settlement demonstrates the FTC’s continuing commitment to vigorous enforcement of the Privacy Shield, We believe Privacy Shield is a critical tool for ensuring transatlantic data flows and protecting privacy that benefits both companies and consumers.”

Undeniably, the new group of commissioners will be responsible for the FTC’s ongoing efforts to blaze the trail and continue as the most prominent federal agency with authority in the area of data privacy and security. While we can only speculate as to how the FTC will progress in this area, we can share, in order of seniority, what we know about the new commissioners:

Chairman Joseph J. Simons – Chairman Simons is an expert in the area of anti-trust. He previously served at the FTC in several capacities including at the Bureau of Competition where he served as Assistant to the Director, Assistant to the Director for Evaluation, Associate Director for Mergers, and ultimately Director of the Bureau. He also helped develop the “Critical Loss Analysis” which is a technique that helps define markets that has been adopted by the Department of Justice, the FTC, and the courts. Chairman Simons comes back to the FTC after spending several years in private practice at Paul Weiss. He has his AB from Cornell and his JD from Georgetown.

Commissioner Noah Joshua Phillips – Commissioner Phillips comes to the FTC from the United States Senate where he served as an advisor to Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) on a variety of issues including consumer privacy and anti-trust. He practiced law at two national law firms and also worked at an investment bank prior to working for the Senate. He has an AB from Dartmouth and a JD from Stanford.

Commissioner Rohit Chopra – Commissioner Chopra is an expert on competition, especially in the area of student loans. He served with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as an assistant director overseeing student loans and as a student loan ombudsman. He has also served with the U.S. Department of Education.  Commissioner Chopra is also the only non-lawyer Commissioner.  He has a BA from Harvard and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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