The nation's former top consumer protection official is headed to Hogan Lovells, a top international law firm, to specialize in an increasingly visible area of policy: antitrust and competition law.
Edith Ramirez, the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission during President Barack Obama's tenure, will help lead the firm's practice on economic regulation and antitrust, Hogan Lovells announced Tuesday. She'll also take on some of its work in cybersecurity and privacy, two issues that were a core part of Ramirez's portfolio at the FTC.
The move highlights the growing relevance of corporate power to average consumers, as companies such as Google have been penalized and accused of monopolistic behavior in Europe and U.S. lawmakers question whether major tech platforms such as Facebook and Amazon have become too dominant.
“Issues that relate to the role of competition when it comes to economic growth, issues of income inequality, those are important conversations to be having,” Ramirez said in an interview, “and it's a good thing that the public's attention has been turning to the role of competition policy.”
In recent months, Democrats have rolled out a new economic agenda calling for a more expansive U.S. policy on competition, arguing that FTC guidelines focus too narrowly on consumer prices and fail to acknowledge, for example, the impact of behavior and customer data on today's Internet-driven economy.
But Ramirez, whose time at the FTC included the publication of a landmark agency report on commercial data vendors, said Washington's current antitrust tools are sufficient for the moment.
“There are a number of questions that are new, and issues we do need to keep an eye on,” she said, “but it doesn't necessarily mean that we need to be looking at these in a dramatically different way than in the past.”