FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez announced on Monday the appointment of Jessica Rich to head the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection ("BCP"). Ms. Rich is a 20-year veteran of the FTC with experience overseeing policy work and enforcement especially in the areas of privacy, data security, and the use of evolving technologies, such as mobile applications, in marketing.
Under David Vladeck, the BCP’s last non-Acting Director, the Bureau had a pronounced focus on health benefit advertising – with high-profile cases involving products such as muscle-toning tennis shoes and breakfast cereals marketed with claims about boosting children’s immunity and cognitive function. Privacy and data security cases were not uncommon during Mr. Vladeck’s tenure; several settlements were announced with companies, such as Google and Facebook. It would not be surprising, however, to see even greater enforcement focus on privacy, data security, and online marketing matters during Ms. Rich’s tenure. There could also be more cases involving both emerging technologies and health benefit advertising. The 2011 investigation of a mobile application marketed as an acne treatment provides an example of such a case.
Ms. Rich previously served, since January 2012, as Associate Director of the BCP, heading the Division of Financial Practices. She served as BCP Deputy Director under then-Director Vladeck from November 2009 until 2012. From 1998 until 2009, Ms. Rich served as Assistant Director of the Division of Financial Practices and as Assistant Director, and then Acting Associate Director, of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection.