FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz Steps Down


Jon Leibowitz announced his plans to step down from his position as Chairman of the federal Trade Commission (FTC). He announced his resignation after supervising both the investigation and settlement of Google’s antitrust probe.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz Steps DownAs per the announcement, Leibowitz is planning to leave his position in mid-February, according to the New York Times.

“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,” he told the newspaper.

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Former FTC Commissioner, Leibowitz, was appointed by President Obama to lead the agency in 2009. The reason behind the appointment of Leibowitz was, said to be, his better deportment on enforcing antitrust laws and online privacy issues.

In his term as the Chairman of FTC, Leibowitz acted upon bringing antitrust probes against Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC). Other than this he also looked into dozens privacy issues and upgraded the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

The most hyped effort of Leibowitz was FTC’s antitrust investigation into Google’s business practice. The investigation was carried for 20 months and mainly concerned the way Google displayed search results, which according to critics, favoured the company’s own services over those of its competitors.

Replying to questions raised on the success of Google’s case, “You don’t take these jobs without wanting to bring a big case,” Mr. Leibowitz said. “But I think we did our job there.”

As per the FTC settlement, few companies can now choose to stop showing their results inside Google products like Google+Local, Google Shopping and Hotels. Along with this Google also settled to voluntarily change the way it uses other Web sites data. But according to some regulators, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) did not change its method much after the settlement and probe. Google continues to carry its operations normally more or less the same as before.

Leibowitz is expected to move to the private sector after resigning from his post. He wants to target on competition policy and privacy in the private sector, according to the New York Times. As of now the successor of Leibowitz is not known, but is likely to come from within the commission. Various contenders for the coveted post could likely be, Democratic commissioners Julie Brill and Edith Ramirez, Howard Shelanski, an antitrust expert and a director of the commission’s bureau of economics, and Philip J. Weiser, a former aide to Joel Klein at the Justice Department’s antitrust division.

Other Democrats and some consumer advocates, however, did not seem to be much impressed, although they chose not to comment on the record. However, they cited few areas where FTC did not restrict merger actions, including a $ 2 billion proposal to join Universal music Group and EMI, the two big record brands.