Obama Appointee Praises Snowden for Putting ‘Spotlight’ on Privacy

FTC chairwoman says many were unaware how they could be tracked online.

The U.S. and Britain spied on OPEC, according to documents released by Edward Snowden.
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
Add to Briefcase
Brendan Sasso
Feb. 10, 2014, 7:24 a.m.

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.

What We're Following See More »
NRA Chief: Leftist Protesters Are Paid
1 days ago
Trump Still on Campaign Rhetoric
1 days ago
Trump Rails On Obamacare
1 days ago

After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

Trump Goes After The Media
1 days ago

Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."

Report: Trump Asked FBI to Deny Russia Stories
1 days ago

"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.