Signaling what we predicted just yesterday, that the FTC was going to change their policy and stop going after marketers as much, the Federal Trade Commission Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen announced today that Jessica Rich, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, is leaving the agency on February 17 after 26 years of service. She was widely regarded as the most powerful attorney in consumer protection in the United States, with the power to break or make any company — and Trump and Ohlhausen wanted her gone with a clean slate because of her ties to Attorney Generals including Eric Schneiderman who is still investigating President Trump.
Too late however for the hundreds of marketers who were put out of business including former mystery millionaire Vito Glazers who is still reportedly paying off his fines, and Jonathan Eborn who tried to hide his assets from the FTC.
Despite those “in the know” saying that she was forced out by Donald Trump, the FTC released the following statement “We are grateful to Jessica for her many years of service to the FTC and the public,” said Ohlhausen. “She is a pioneer in consumer protection who spearheaded major initiatives regarding consumers’ privacy, data security, and financial transactions. Many of the FTC’s programs bear her indelible mark.”
As Bureau Director, Rich managed eight consumer protection divisions and eight regional offices charged with stopping consumer fraud and deception and protecting consumers’ privacy. Under her tenure, the Bureau brought a series of major law enforcement actions that returned billions of dollars to consumers, including cases against Western Union, Volkswagen, Herbalife, Apple, Google, and Amazon. She was appointed Bureau Director by former Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in 2013.
Prior to that, she served in a number of senior roles at the FTC, including Deputy Director of the Bureau, Associate Director of the Division of Financial Practices, and Acting Associate Director and Assistant Director of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection.
During her tenure, Rich also led the FTC’s efforts to expand its technological expertise. She created the FTC’s Office of Technology Research and Investigations (OTech) to train staff and assist with tech-related investigations, reports, and public workshops. She hired technologists and attorneys with tech backgrounds to bolster the FTC’s understanding of the evolving marketplace and perform original research. She developed influential FTC policy reports, including reports on the Internet of Things, Big Data, data brokers, mobile apps, and cross-device tracking. And she oversaw public fora on a range of tech-related matters, including ransomware, Smart TVs, drones, and crowdfunding.
As a division manager earlier in her career, Rich spearheaded the FTC’s privacy and data security program, building it from a small team to one of the agency’s signature programs. Among other things, Rich led development of the FTC rules protecting children’s online privacy (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule) and sensitive financial information (Safeguards Rule), and brought precedent-setting enforcement actions to address the privacy and data security practices of Microsoft, BJ’s Warehouse, DSW, TJX, and ChoicePoint.
Rich, who joined the agency in 1991, is a recipient of the FTC Chairman’s Award, the agency’s highest award for meritorious service, and a graduate of Harvard University and New York University Law School.