Anti-Regulation Obama Federal Trade Commission Nominee Not Qualified for the Consumer Protection Post, Says Consumer Watchdog

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WASHNGTON, DC – President Obama’s newest Federal Trade Commission nominee, who is expected to pledge to recuse himself from matters involving Google because of financial conflicts of interest, has anti-regulatory views at odds with the agency’s consumer protection mission, said Consumer Watchdog today.
“Joshua Wright’s ties to Google are a problem,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director, “but promising not to take part in decisions involving the Internet giant won’t fix the problems with his nomination. As an outspoken proponent of policies that undercut the FTC’s mission, Wright shouldn’t be entrusted with one of the most important consumer protection jobs in the country.”
 “The FTC has a tradition of acting in a bipartisan manner in its effort to protect consumers.  Naturally, Commissioners have brought a variety of philosophical approaches to the agency, but generally have been able to operate within a broad consensus on many key issues,” said Simpson. “Wright falls outside that mainstream and would be unable to make effective contributions to the agency.  He is likely to function mainly as an obstructionist.”
Wright opposed the landmark Dodd-Frank Act and is hostile to that reform’s greatest achievement for consumers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Cooperation between the FTC and the CFPB is an important piece of the financial reform law’s enforcement.
Wright has spoken out against the need for a Do Not Track mechanism to protect consumers’ online privacy, a key recommendation in the Commission’s landmark report, Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change. And Wright has argued against using Section V of the Federal Trade Commission Act as a basis for antitrust action.  The FTC obtained a consent decree with Intel in 2010 based on Section V.
Wright is expected to pledge to recuse himself from Commission decisions involving Google for the next two years because of his financial ties to the Internet giant. He is the research director and a board member of the International Center for Law and Economics (ICLE), which receives funds from Google. He has authored or co-authored several white papers supporting Google that were funded by ICLE. Wright is a Senior Adjunct Fellow at, a self-described “technology policy think tank,” which also receives Google money.
The FTC is currently conducting an antitrust investigation of Google and is expected to make a decision about what action to take by the end of the year. Google is under a consent agreement with Google for violating users’ privacy that requires the company to submit to privacy audits for 20 years.  The company just agreed to a record $22.5 million fine for violating that agreement. Given Google’s dominance of the online marketplace, its activities will continue to be a top priority at the Commission, and the next commissioner should be an active participant in those actions, said Consumer Watchdog.
Read Consumer Watchdog’s letter of opposition to Wright’s nomination.
Consumer Watchdog has also urged the Commission to bring an antitrust suit against Google.
The Senate Commerce Committee holds a hearing on Wright’s nomination at 2:30 pm today.  Read the details of the hearing here.

John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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