As a commissioner, Ms. Ramirez is not subject to a
congressional-approval process, a factor that also most likely
played a role in her appointment. The administration has been
embroiled in battles with Republicans over more-high-profile picks.
Congress narrowly approved Senator Chuck Hagel to head the Defense
Department following a bruising battle with the GOP. Now
Republicans have set their sights on Mr. Obama's nominee to lead
the CIA, John Brennan.
The Washington Post were among the first to report the
appointment, which the FTC has not confirmed. An FTC spokesperson
said the agency "can't comment on the appointment of the next
chairman until the White House has made a formal announcement."
The appointment of Ms. Ramirez is somewhat unexpected among
Beltway insiders, though she was considered to be in the running.
Ms. Ramirez is "just extremely quiet. She's not as vocal and as
public as Commissioner Brill has been," said Interactive
Advertising Bureau senior VP-General Counsel Mike Zaneis earlier
this month. "But in this town, never underestimate the value of
political connections," he said, noting the presumed chairman's
affiliation with the president.
"Under [Ms. Ramirez's] leadership, we expect the FTC to blaze
new ground on privacy -- especially involving mobile devices,
digital-data brokers and do not track," noted Jeffrey Chester,
executive director of privacy group the Center for Digital
Commissioner Ramirez alluded to Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation cross-border privacy rules during an FTC
workshop in November on "Protecting Consumers Across Borders,"
stating, "I believe the FTC is well-positioned to take a leadership
role in exploring transnational, enforceable codes of conduct and
promoting best practices."
In a 2010 interview with the Federal Civil Enforcement
Committee, Ms. Ramirez -- then just named a commissioner -- said,
"I intend to be especially involved in technology issues as they
relate to the cross-border dimensions of privacy and data
security." She continued, "I will also continue to push the
commission to think creatively about ways to better educate
consumers about risks in the marketplace."
She also stressed her interest in pushing for the FTC to protect
Spanish-speaking consumers against fraud. Referring to predatory
prepaid-calling-card marketing, she noted, "I intend to be actively
involved in FTC initiatives targeting non-English-speaking
consumers, especially the large number of those who are primarily
Spanish-speaking. I also look forward to further raising the
profile of the agency's work on behalf of all minority and