Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act. Its principal mission is the promotion of consumer protection and the elimination and prevention of what regulators perceive to be harmfully anti-competitive business practices, such as coercive monopoly.
The Federal Trade Commission Act was one of President Woodrow Wilson's major acts against trusts. Trusts and trust-busting were significant political concerns during the Progressive Era. Since its inception, the FTC has enforced the provisions of the Clayton Act, a key antitrust statute, as well as the provisions of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 41 et seq. Over time, the FTC has been delegated the enforcement of additional business regulation statutes and has promulgated a number of regulations (codified in Title 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations).
FTC chairmen and commissioners
The Federal Trade Commission is headed by five commissioners who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate. Under the FTC Act, no more than three commissioners may be from the same political party. A commissioner's term of office is seven years, and the terms are staggered so that in a given year no more than one commissioner's term expires (although in certain years no commissioner's term expires and in years where commissioners choose to step down, more than one new commissioner may be appointed).
The current commissioners are:
Jon Leibowitz - Chairman
J. Thomas Rosch
Recent former commissioners were:
William Kovacic (January 4, 2006 - October 3, 2011)
Pamela Jones Harbour (August 4, 2003 - April 6, 2010)
Deborah Platt Majoras (August 16, 2004 - March 29, 2008)
Thomas B. Leary (November 17, 1999 - December 31, 2005)
Orson Swindle (December 18, 1997 - June 30, 2005)
Mozelle W. Thompson (December 17, 1997 - August 31, 2004)
Timothy Muris (June 4, 2001 - August 15, 2004)
Sheila F. Anthony (September 30, 1997 - August 1, 2003)
Robert Pitofsky (June 29, 1978 - April 30, 1981) & (April 11, 1995 - May 31, 2001)
Mary L. Azcuenaga (November 27, 1984 - June 3, 1998)
Roscoe B. Starek, III (November 19, 1990 - December 18, 1997)
Janet D. Steiger (August 11, 1989 - September 28, 1997)
Christine A. Varney (October 17, 1994 - August 5, 1997)
Dennis A. Yao (July 16, 1991 - August 31, 1994)
Deborah K. Owen (October 25, 1989 - August 26, 1994)
Andrew Strenio (March 17, 1986 - July 15, 1991)
Terry Calvani (November 18, 1983 - September 25, 1990)
Daniel Oliver (April 21, 1986 - August 10, 1989)
Margo E. Machol (November 29, 1988 - October 24, 1989) [recess appointment]
Patricia P. Bailey (October 29, 1979 - May 15, 1988)
James C. Miller III (September 25, 1982 - October 5, 1985)
George W. Douglas (December 27, 1982 - September 18, 1985)
Michael Pertschuk (April 21, 1977 - October 15, 1984)
David Clanton (August 26, 1975 - October 14,1983)
Paul Rand Dixon (March 21, 1961 - September 25, 1981)
Elizabeth Hanford Dole (December 4, 1973 - March 9, 1979)
Stephen A. Nye (May 5, 1974 - May 5, 1978)
Calvin J. Collier (March 24, 1976 - December 31, 1977)
Lewis A. Engman (February 20, 1973 - December 31, 1975)
Mayo J. Thompson (July 8, 1973 - September 26, 1975)
David J. Dennison, Jr. (October 18, 1970 - December 31, 1973)
Mary Gardner Jones (October 29, 1964 - November 2, 1973)
Everette MacIntyre (September 26, 1961 - August 30, 1973)
Miles W. Kirkpatrick (September 14, 1970 - February 20, 1973)
Philip Elman (April 21, 1961 - October 18, 1970)
Caspar W. Weinberger (December 31, 1969 - August 6, 1970)
Bureau of Consumer Protection
The Bureau of Consumer Protection’s mandate is to protect consumers against unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce. With the written consent of the Commission, Bureau attorneys enforce federal laws related to consumer affairs and rules promulgated by the FTC. Its functions include investigations, enforcement actions, and consumer and business education. Areas of principal concern for this bureau are: advertising and marketing, financial products and practices, telemarketing fraud, privacy and identity protection, etc. The bureau also is responsible for the United States National Do Not Call Registry.
Under the FTC Act, the Commission has the authority, in most cases, to bring its actions in federal court through its own attorneys. In some consumer protection matters, the FTC appears with, or supports, the U.S. Department of Justice.
Bureau of Competition
The Bureau of Competition is the division of the FTC charged with elimination and prevention of "anticompetitive" business practices. It accomplishes this through the enforcement of antitrust laws, review of proposed mergers, and investigation into other non-merger business practices that may impair competition. Such non-merger practices include horizontal restraints, involving agreements between direct competitors, and vertical restraints, involving agreements among businesses at different levels in the same industry (such as suppliers and commercial buyers).
The FTC shares enforcement of antitrust laws with the Department of Justice. However, while the FTC is responsible for civil enforcement of antitrust laws, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice has the power to bring both civil and criminal action in antitrust matters.
Bureau of Economics
The Bureau of Economics was established to support the Bureau of Competition and Consumer Protection by providing expert knowledge related to the economic impacts of the FTC's legislation and operation.