Full House Needed at FTC

April 26, 2017

The White House is presently facing many key appointment decisions. ANA strongly believes that filling the three remaining Commissioner vacancies at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) now should be a major priority for the Administration. We are at a critical point due to recent Congressional invalidation of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) misguided broadband privacy regulation, and the uncertain future of the Net Neutrality rules. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today reemphasized his determination to undo these rules; if they are invalidated, full privacy regulatory power would be restored to the FTC, which had been the primary regulator of online privacy issues for many years. In that event, the FTC clearly should have a full complement of Commissioners to oversee this critical area.

The FTC is currently operating with just two Commissioners – Republican Acting Chair Maureen Ohlhausen and Democratic Commissioner Terrell McSweeny. While they are highly professional and extremely knowledgeable with a history of cooperation, it is vital for the Commission to be restored to its full five-member strength. With only one Commissioner from each party, in a politically fraught environment, the FTC could end up in 1-1 tie votes, leaving the Commission essentially paralyzed and unable to act in a number of areas of high importance to consumers and advertising interests.

As the FCC and FTC work to iron out the details of their roles in oversight of privacy, it is critical that the FTC have a full house in order to ensure the process can move forward rapidly and effectively. Now is the time to put the FTC in the best position to further a strong and appropriate privacy regulatory agenda and to carry out its many other key functions.

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