Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said Monday that the leaks by Edward Snowden about National Security Agency surveillance have led to a positive public discussion about privacy.
“It’s been a catalyst for very healthy debate for privacy generally,” she said during a discussion at a technology conference at the University of Colorado, saying the leaks “put a spotlight on the issue more broadly.”
Ramirez emphasized that her agency has jurisdiction over only the commercial sector and that she wasn’t making any comment about the national security impact of Snowden’s actions. But she argued that the news alerted people to how changing technologies have allowed for the tracking and collection of information about nearly their every action online.
The FTC, an independent executive-branch agency, is the main regulator for commercial privacy issues. The agency uses its power over “unfair” or “deceptive” business practices to sue companies like Facebook and Google that violate the terms of their own privacy policies.
Obama named Ramirez as chairwoman of the agency last year. She had served as one of the five FTC commissioners since 2010.
The Snowden leaks have also damaged the reputation of the U.S. overseas, Ramirez said at Monday’s conference. She argued that it’s important that the United States coordinate its privacy rules with authorities in Europe and elsewhere.
The news reports about how the NSA spies on foreign citizens and leaders have undermined trust in the United States on privacy issues and hurt its ability to negotiate, she said.
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"Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are reviving calls to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia." Rep. Cedric Richmond, the group's chair, told ABC News that "we will never solve America's race problem if we continue to honor traitors who fought against the United States." And Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol." But a CBC spokesperson said no formal legislative effort is afoot.