Chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission: Who Is Edith Ramirez?

Sunday, July 06, 2014

On March 4, 2013, President Barack Obama appointed Edith Ramirez to be chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), becoming the first member of an ethnic minority to lead the agency. Ramirez had been a member of the FTC board since being confirmed by the Senate in April, 2010. Because of that, she required no further confirmation to chair the commission.

 

Ramirez was born in San Clemente, California, to parents who were immigrants from Mexico. She attended San Clemente High School, graduating in 1985 as valedictorian. Ramirez, who speaks Spanish, went to Harvard, earning a B.A. in history in 1989. She went on to attend Harvard Law School, where she worked with Obama on the Harvard Law Review. Ramirez earned her law degree in 1992 and then served a clerkship with Judge Alfred Goodwin of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

 

Ramirez returned to California in 1993 to work as an associate for the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles. In 1996, she moved to Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, one of the largest litigation firms in the United States. She was made a partner in the firm and she worked on anti-trust law among other issues. Her clients included Disney, Mattel and Northrup Grumman.

 

Besides corporate clients, Ramirez worked with the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice, a legal aid corporation focusing on Los Angeles’ Hispanic community and was a director of Volunteers of America.

 

In 2005, Ramirez was appointed to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Board of Commissioners, becoming commission vice president a year later. She served on the board until 2010. Ramirez directed Obama’s California Latino outreach efforts in California during his 2008 campaign.

 

Since joining the FTC, Ramirez has focused on children’s privacy issues and other electronic privacy issues. Under her direction, the commission has obtained a settlement from Warner Music Group for collecting children’s personal information on their fan sites for Justin Bieber and other pop stars. She also led the collection of a $32.5 million settlement from Apple, which allowed unauthorized purchases from its app store.

 

“As mobile technology proliferates and connected devices become more commonplace, one of my priorities has been to address the privacy and consumer protection issues associated with these technologies at an early stage,” Ramirez said in an interview with AdWeek.

 

Ramirez is also an advocate of “Do-Not-Track” technology, which would allow consumers to opt out of having their personal information gathered while surfing the Web. Similarly, she has urged more transparency from data brokers, which mine internet users’ personal information and sell it.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

White House Elevates a Commissioner to Chairwoman of the FTC (by Edward Wyatt, New York Times)

FTC Chair Edith Ramirez Fights for Data Security and Privacy Rights (by Katy Bachman, AdWeek)

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