Obama nominates Edith Ramirez to lead FTC

Edith Ramirez has been tapped to lead the Federal Trade Commission, according to a White House official.

“Over the past few years Ramirez has been instrumental in ensuring there is robust competition and innovation in the high tech marketplace, and has worked hard to protect the most vulnerable communities,” the official said.

The FTC declined to comment on the pick.

Ramirez, a Democrat, has served as an FTC commissioner since 2010. Before that, she worked as a lawyer for the Quinn Emmanuel law firm, where she specialized in intellectual property, antitrust, unfair competition and trademark matters.

Ramirez would replace outgoing chairman and fellow Democrat Jon Leibowitz, who announced his resignation in January. Her term as commissioner was set to expire in 2015.

Ramirez, along with fellow Democratic commissioner Julie Brill, was a leading candidate to fill the position. Her appointment would leave the commission evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, with one seat empty until another person is nominated to fill the seat.

Under Leibowitz, the FTC has worked on privacy and antitrust issues, but was criticized by some for going too easy on Google in an antitrust complaint settled in January.

Public interest groups were quick to hail news of the appointment, saying that Ramirez has been a strong voice on issues such as patent reform, consumer welfare and privacy.

“Ms. Ramirez will be a thoughtful and effective leader of an agency that has been strengthened over the last several years to better meet the consumer protection challenges of the 21st Century,” said Jeff Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “Under her leadership, we expect the FTC to blaze new ground on privacy—especially involving mobile devices, digital data brokers and Do Not Track.”

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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