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Trump appoints government regulation critic as FTC chairwoman

Maureen Ohlhausen will lead the agency that guards consumer safety and privacy.
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President Trump has appointed Maureen Ohlhausen as acting commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). For now, she'll be in charge of the agency that protects US consumers' safety and privacy, while guarding them from anti-competitive business practices. Ohlhausen, a Republican, has served as an FTC commissioner since 2012, and will take over from Democrat Edith Ramirez, the chairwoman since of 2013. "I will safeguard competition ... [and] work to protect all consumers from fraud, deception and unfair practices," said Ohlhausen in a statement.

Ramirez presided over some historical FTC actions, including the $10 billion US government settlement with Volkswagen over its "dieselgate" emissions. At the same time, she encouraged deregulation of the tech-driven sharing economy, allowing smaller players to participate in the US market.

Ohlhausen is a critic of rules like the FCC's Open Internet Order (net neutrality), having recently said in a speech that excessive regulation can make large companies "suffer." Instead, she's in favor of keeping corporations in line through enforcement and cooperation, and believes the commission should use "a philosophy of regulatory humility ... and be mindful of the private and social costs that government actions inflict."

As with his appointment of Ajit Pai to chair of the FCC, Trump chose to promote from within, at least for now. Most of his other agency picks came from outside of government, including Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator who has sued the agency multiple times. So far, the new President has chosen picks along partisan lines, with most leaning strongly to the right on every issue.

Ohlhausen will be acting chairwoman for now, but Trump advisor (and media lawsuit backer) Peter Thiel is leading the search for a permanent candidate, according to Buzzfeed. Trump previously said that he was against the blockbuster Time Warner and AT&T merger, so the team is reportedly looking for a candidate that will aggressively enforce antitrust laws. Ironically, such a stance is contrary to the views of many Republicans, including acting chair Ohlhausen herself, so candidate selection has been tougher than usual, according to Buzzfeed's sources.

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