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- For the comedian born Jonathan Leibowitz, see Jon Stewart
|Chair of the Federal Trade Commission|
March 2, 2009 – February 15, 2013
|Preceded by||William Kovacic|
|Succeeded by||Edith Ramirez|
|Born||Jonathan David Leibowitz
June 17, 1958
Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Wisconsin, Madison (BA)
New York University (JD)
Jonathan David Leibowitz (born June 17, 1958) was the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an independent agency of the United States Government. He was sworn in as a Commissioner on September 3, 2004, and designated Chairman on March 2, 2009 by President Barack Obama. In 2012, the U.S. Senate confirmed Liebowitz's appointment for a second term. He resigned effective February 15, 2013.
When he joined the FTC, Leibowitz had a long career of public service. He was the Democratic Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Antitrust Subcommittee (1997–2000), where he focused on competition policy and telecommunications matters and was known for developing bipartisan consensus. He served as Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism and Technology from 1995 to 1996 and the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice (1991–1994). In addition, he served as Chief Counsel to Senator Herb Kohl (1989–2000) and worked for Senator Paul Simon (1986–1987). Leibowitz was the Motion Picture Association of America's Vice President for Congressional Affairs (2000–2004), and an attorney in private practice in Washington, D.C. (1984–1986).
Life and career
Leibowitz grew up in Englewood, New Jersey, where he attended Dwight Morrow High School. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Wisconsin with a B.A. in American History (1980). He received his J.D. degree from New York University School of Law in 1984. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar.
During his tenure at the FTC, Leibowitz has dedicated himself to a variety of competition and consumer protection issues.
Newsweek/Daily Beast Digital Power Index ranked Leibowitz #4 Navigator (public servants defining digital regulatory boundaries) in 2012.
Common Sense Media honored Leibowitz as a Champion for Kids on April 25, 2012.
Since becoming Chairman, the FTC has filed more than 40 law enforcement actions to stop scams that prey on consumers suffering from the economic downturn, such as foreclosure “rescue” and mortgage modification schemes, phony debt-reduction and credit-repair services, bogus government grant opportunities, job scams, and get-rich quick frauds. The Commission redoubled its efforts to put a stop to job schemes when U.S. unemployment reached nearly 10 percent in early 2010. In one of the largest judgments imposed in an FTC case, Countrywide settled for $108 million with the FTC in June 2010 for collecting excessive fees from cash-strapped borrowers who were struggling to keep their homes. In 2011, the FTC mailed 450,177 refund checks to homeowners who were allegedly overcharged by Countrywide.
Leibowitz has been active in preserving competition in the health care and pharmaceutical sectors. In particular, he has been a critic of “pay-for-delay” settlements in the pharmaceutical industry.
The Chairman and the Commission have aggressively worked at stopping pay-for-delay patent settlements in the pharmaceutical industry. These are deals in which a brand-name drug firm pays its potential generic drug into the market. As Leibowitz explained, the practice results not only in windfalls for both companies—sometimes of more than a billion dollars—but also in higher drug prices for consumers. Leibowitz has published articles on this issue and advocates bringing cases against firms that engage in these practices.
According to a January 2010 FTC Staff Study titled Pay-for-Delay: How Drug Company Pay-Offs Cost Consumers Billions, the cost to consumers from pay-for-delay deals is an estimated $3.5 billion per year – or $35 billion over 10 years. The Commission recommended that Congress should pass legislation to protect consumers from such anticompetitive agreements.
An FTC study released in October 2011 revealed that some pharmaceutical companies continued to engage in pay-for-delay deals in FY 2011. The findings prompted Leibowitz to ask Congress’ “Super Committee” to restrict these deals, stating that it could help reduce the deficit and lower the nation’s healthcare costs.
Internet, telecommunications and technology
During Leibowitz’s tenure, the agency remains focused on promoting consumer protection, competition and innovation in technology sectors, through both policy initiatives and law enforcement.
The agency released a preliminary staff report December 1, 2010 titled, Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers. With regard to consumer’s online privacy, Leibowitz stated: “The FTC wants to help ensure that the growing, changing, thriving information marketplace is built on a framework that promotes privacy, transparency, business innovation and consumer choice. We believe that’s what most Americans want as well.”
Also, the FTC proposed revisions to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule in September 2011 and is seeking public comments. Leibowitz said the revisions were in response to the rapid changes in technology. “We want to ensure that the COPPA Rule is effective in helping parents protect their children online, without unnecessarily burdening online businesses. We look forward to the continuing thoughtful input from industry, children’s advocates, and other stakeholders as we work to update the Rule.”
During an October 2011 speech about protecting online consumer privacy while ensuring an internet that generates the free content we have all come to expect and enjoy, Leibowitz coined the term “cyberazzi.” He likened invisible online data collection practices to the methods of the paparazzi, who follow celebrities around and photograph them without their permission. “A host of invisible cyberazzi – cookies and other data catchers – follow us as we browse, reporting our every stop and action to marketing firms that, in turn, collect an astonishingly complete profile of online behavior,” said Leibowitz.
Under Leibowitz’ guidance in August 2010 the Commission settled with Intel to restore competition and innovation that was lost as a result of Intel’s alleged anticompetitive actions. In May 2010, the FTC closed its high-profile investigation of Google’s proposed acquisition of AdMob, after a long investigation, concluding that it was unlikely to harm competition in the emerging mobile advertising market, citing Apple’s move to launch a competing mobile ad network.
As a Commissioner, Leibowitz was particularly involved in various Internet issues, from fighting spam and spyware to creating effective guidelines for online behavioral targeting (the practice of collecting Internet users’ unique browsing history to target advertising), to ensuring that website privacy policies are clear and accessible to consumers.
Leibowitz has urged the Commission to “name names” of advertisers who paid to advertise through so-called nuisance adware, software that displays or downloads advertisements on consumers’ computers without their consent. Leibowitz has also advocated for balanced “Net Neutrality” rules and for the right of municipalities to offer broadband to consumers free from restrictive state laws.
Advertising and marketing to children
Leibowitz has called for strong industry self-regulatory initiatives to help combat childhood obesity and ensure that only healthier foods and beverages are marketed to America’s children. He has also advocated continued review of entertainment industry marketing practices to prevent children from being exposed to inappropriate content. The Commission has completed five reports on this topic since 2000.
The FTC monitors competition in energy markets and released its latest staff report on gasoline prices in September 2011. Leibowitz said the American people need to understand why they often pay so much for gasoline. “Our report spells out the factors that determine what consumers pay at the pump, and why gas prices seem to ‘rocket up’ but feather down.”
Leibowitz was the one commissioner to dissent on a 2007 FTC Report on Spring/Summer 2006 Nationwide Gasoline Price Increases, which found that the increase could be explained by market forces. Leibowitz suggested that the plausible explanation for the increase in gasoline prices, that the Commission found, was not necessarily the only explanation. “The question you ask determines the answer you get,” he wrote, “whatever theoretical justifications exist don’t exclude the real world threat that there was profiteering at the expense of consumers." Similarly, in an earlier report investigating accusations of price gouging by oil companies after Hurricane Katrina, Leibowitz wrote separately to note that a handful of refiners studied displayed “troubling” conduct.
Leibowitz has advocated for a re-invigorated enforcement of the FTC Act as a way to stop anticompetitive behavior that can no longer be reached under prevailing judicial interpretation of the antitrust laws. Leibowitz argued that in founding the FTC, “Congress intended to create an agency with authority that extended beyond the limits of the Sherman Antitrust Act.” Leibowitz has supported the use of Section 5 of the FTC Act (“unfair methods of competition”) beyond the Sherman Act in standard setting cases and in a case involving a failed agreement to fix prices. With Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch (a Republican) and Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour (an Independent), Leibowitz recently criticized a Department of Justice Report on monopolization, saying that DoJ’s approach placed “a thumb on the scales in favor of firms with monopoly or near-monopoly power and against other equally significant stakeholders."
Career after the Federal Trade Commission
In June 2013, Leibowitz joined the Washington D.C. Office of the law firm Davis, Polk & Wardell LLC. Leibowitz is also founding Co-Chair of the "21st Century Privacy Coalition," a coalition of telecommunications companies and trade associations focused on relaxing federal privacy laws.
- "Federal Trade Commission- Commissioners". Retrieved 2009-11-01.
- Diduch, Mary. "FTC chairman returns home to Bergen", The Record (Bergen County), June 20, 2012. Accessed June 21, 2012. "When Jon Leibowitz was growing up in Englewood, his friends and classmates at Dwight Morrow High School knew him as smart kid who didn't flaunt his intelligence, and who was friends with everyone.Few could have imagined he would end up running the Federal Trade Commission, a powerful federal agency with more than 1,000 employees."
- “Digital Power Index,” 2012, Newsweek/Daily Beast, Available: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/digital-power-index.html#lists Accessed: 8/7/12.
- “Champion for Kids,” 2012, Common Sense Media, Available: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/csma2012 Accessed: 8/7/12.
- "The Power Brokers," 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek, Available: http://images.businessweek.com/slideshows/20110119/the-power-brokers/slides/14 Accessed: 3/3/11.
- Marcus, Ruth (December 5, 2011). "Gloria Cain, the human political prop". The Washington Post.
- "- NOMINATIONS TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION". www.congress.gov. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
- "FTC Cracks Down on Con Artists Who Target Jobless Americans," February 17, 2010, Federal Trade Commission Press Release, Available: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/02/bottomdollar.shtm Accessed 3/3/11.
- "Countrywide Will Pay $108 Million for Overcharging Struggling Homeowners; Loan Servicer Inflated Fees, Mishandled Loans of Borrowers in Bankruptcy," June 07, 2010, Federal Trade Commission Press Release, Available: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/06/countrywide.shtm Accessed: 3/3/11.
- “FTC Returns Nearly $108 Million to 450,000 Homeowners Overcharged by Countrywide for Loan Servicing Fees,” July 20, 2011, Federal Trade Commission Press Release, Available: http://ftc.gov/opa/2011/07/countrwide.shtm Accessed: 10/27/11.
- Leibowitz, Jon. Statement to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Anticompetitive Patent Settlements in the Pharmaceutical Industry: The Benefits of a Legislative Solution, Hearing, January 17, 2007. Available at: http://www.ftc.gov/speeches/leibowitz/070117anticompetitivepatentsettlements_senate.pdf Accessed: 11/4/08
- George, Jon (March 17, 2006). "Hurdles Ahead for Cephalon". Philadelphia Business Journal. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- Leibowitz, Jon (February 25, 2008). "This Pill Not to be Taken with Competition: How Collusion is Keeping Generic Drugs off the Shelves". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- "Pay-for-Delay: How Drug Company Pay Offs Cost Consumers Billions," January 2010, FTC Staff Study, Available: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2010/01/100112payfordelayrpt.pdf Accessed 3/3/11.
- “FTC Study Finds that in FY 2011, Pharmaceutical Industry Continued to Make Numerous Business Deals that Delay Consumers’ Access to Lower-Cost Generic Drugs,” October 25, 2011, Federal Trade Commission Press Release, Available: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/10/mma.shtm Accessed: 10/25/11.
- "FTC Staff Issues Privacy Report, Offers Framework for Consumers, Businesses, and Policymakers," December 1, 2010, Federal Trade Commission Press Release, Available: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/12/privacyreport.shtm Accessed 3/3/11.
- “FTC Seeks Comment on Proposed Revisions to Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule,” September 15, 2011, Federal Trade Commission Press Release, Available: http://ftc.gov/opa/2011/09/coppa.shtm Accessed 10/27/11.
- References: “Websites leak more info than they know: study,” October 2011, Today Tech, MSNBC, Available: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/44865669/ns/today-today_tech/t/websites-leak-more-info-most-know-study/#.TpWeu2rd5Bk Accessed: 10/11/11. Leibowitz, Jon. “Online and Overexposed: Consumer Privacy, the FTC, and the Rise of the Cyberazzi.” Oct. 11, 2011. Available: http://ftc.gov/speeches/leibowitz/111011pressclubremarks.pdf Accessed: 10/11/11.
- "FTC Settles Charges of Anticompetitive Conduct Against Intel," August 4, 2010, Federal Trade Commission Press Release, Available: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/08/intel.shtm Accessed 3/3/11.
- "FTC Closes its Investigation of Google AdMob Deal," May 12, 2010, Federal Trade Commission Press Release, Available: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/05/ggladmob.shtm Accessed 3/3/11.
- Teinowitz, Ira. "FTC to Point Finger of Shame at Adware Users; Commissioner Threatens to Out Marketers Passing Content Without Consent," Advertising Age, Dec. 5, 2005.
- Leibowitz, Jon. (2007, February). Navigating Between Dystopian Worlds on Network Neutrality: With Misery and Wretchedness on Each Side, Can We Find a Third Way? Speech presented at Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy Workshop, Washington, DC. Available: http://www.ftc.gov/speeches/leibowitz/070213Navigating_Between_Dystopian_Worlds.pdf Accessed 11/4/08.
- Urken, Ross Kenneth. "FTC Commissioner Tackles Ads for Kids: Official Leads Charge for Food, Drink Firms to Regulate Themselves," The Wall Street Journal, Aug 20, 2008. Available: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121918447343654701.html?mod=googlenews_wsj Accessed 11/4/08
- "FTC Issues Report on Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children," Federal Trade Commission Press Release, Apr. 12, 2007. Available: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/04/marketingviolence.shtm Accessed 11/4/08.
- “FTC Issues New Report on Gasoline Prices and the Petroleum Industry,” September 1, 2011, Federal Trade Commission Press Release, Available: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/09/gasprices.shtm Accessed: 10/27/11.
- "FTC, Antitrust Division Send Report to President on Factors Explaining National Average Price Increases During Spring and Summer of 2006," Federal Trade Commission Press Release, Aug. 30, 2007. Available: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/08/gasprice.shtm Accessed 11/4/08.
- Leibowitz, Jon. "Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Leibowitz Regarding the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice Antitrust Division Report on Spring/Summer 2006 Nationwide Gasoline Price Increases," Aug. 30, 2007. Available: http://www.ftc.gov/reports/gasprices06/P010401Gas06dissent.pdf Accessed 11/4/08.
- Leibowitz, Jon. "Concurring Statement of Commissioner Jon Leibowitz Regarding the Commission's Report, 'Investigation of Gasoline Price Manipulation and Post-Katrina Gasoline Price Increases,'" May 22, 2006. Available: http://www.ftc.gov/speeches/leibowitz/060518LeibowitzStatementReGasolineInvestigation.pdf Accessed 11/4/08.
- Leibowitz, Jon. (2008, October). "Tales from the Crypt." Episodes '08 and '09: The Return of Section 5 ("Unfair Methods of Competition are Hereby Declared Unlawful"). Speech presented at Federal Trade Commission Workshop: Section 5 of the FTC Act as a Competition Statute, Washington, DC. Available: http://www.ftc.gov/speeches/leibowitz_sub.shtm Accessed 11/4/08.
- Leibowitz, Jon. "Concurring Opinion of Commissioner Jon Leibowitz in the Matter of Rambus, Inc.," Aug 2, 2006. Available: http://www.ftc.gov/os/adjpro/d9302/060802rambusconcurringopinionofcommissionerleibowitz.pdf Accessed 11/4/08; "Statement of the Federal Trade Commission In the Matter of Negotiated Data Solutions LLC," Jan 23, 2008. Available: http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/0510094/080122statement.pdf Accessed 11/4/08.
- In re Valassis Communications, Inc. (FTC File No. 051 008)(Mar. 16, 2006). Available: http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/0510008/0510008c4160ValassisDecisionandOrder.pdf Accessed 11/4/08.
- "Another Thumb on the Scales," Editorial, The New York Times, Nov. 1, 2008. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/01/opinion/01sat2.html Accessed 11/4/08.
- "Davis Polk Welcomes Former FTC Chair Jon Leibowitz," http://www.davispolk.com/Davis-Polk-Welcomes-Former-FTC-Chairman-Jon-Leibowitz-06-17-2013/
- "Telecom Firms Form Privacy coalition," http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/telecom-firms-form-privacy-coalition-150783
- "Telecommunication Industry Lobbies To Relax Privacy Rules," http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f871e792-05b3-11e3-8ed5-00144feab7de.html#axzz3HUH3X8zi
- Steel, Emily; Suzanne Vranica (July 30, 2008). "FTC Tightens Food Ad Focus". The Wall Street Journal.
- "Jon Leibowitz Sworn in as FTC Commissioner". Federal Trade Commission Press Release. September 3, 2004.
- Story, Louise (November 2, 2007). "FTC Member Vows Tighter Controls of Online Ads". The New York Times.
|Chair of the Federal Trade Commission