Jun 17, 2021

Chris Hoofnagle Explains Why the New FTC Chair Is Such a Big Deal

From Popular Science

Why the new FTC chair is causing such a stir

By Rob Verger

On Tuesday, an attorney named Lina Khan became the chair of the Federal Trade Commission. Her appointment to lead the FTC marks a potential new direction for a small but important government agency—one you might not know much about...

The FTC has a pretty straightforward mission. “The Federal Trade Commission is our primary consumer protection agency,” says Chris Hoofnagle, a professor at the School of Law [and School of Information] at the University of California, Berkeley. “It can bring cases against companies; it can make rules concerning certain practices; and it is looked to by Congress to solve many different types of consumer problems.” In other words, FTC could just as easily stand for “fair trade commission.”

It’s a relatively small agency, but it’s comparable to what the FDA does for food and drugs, the FAA does for aviation, or the SEC for securities. (Don’t confuse it with the FCC, which is all about communications.)

But compared to those organizations, it’s seen as less muscular. “The Federal Trade Commission has a reputation for being weaker than sister agencies like the FDA and the FCC,” Hoofnagle says. 


Chris Jay Hoofnagle is an adjunct professor in the UC Berkeley School of Information an affiliate of the School’s Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity.

Last updated:

October 8, 2021