FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz resigns

The chairman of the Federal Trade Commission steps down after a 4-year tenure of tackling online privacy issues and anticompetitive behavior.

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz Rafe Needleman/CNET

Jon Leibowitz announced today that he is resigning from his post as the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. His announcement comes after presiding over both the investigation and settlement of Google's antitrust probe.

Leibowitz plans to leave his position by mid-February, according to The New York Times.

"I felt like this was a good time to leave because we got through a number of things that I wanted the commission to address," he told the newspaper.

President Obama appointed Leibowitz , who was formerly an FTC commissioner, to lead the agency in 2009. Leibowitz was said to have been chosen because of his stance on better enforcing antitrust laws and online privacy issues.

Over the course of his tenure, Leibowitz managed to bring antitrust investigations against Facebook , Google, and Intel . He also tackled dozens of privacy issues and expanded the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

The most publicized effort under Leibowitz's belt is the FTC's antitrust investigation into Google's business practices. The 20-month probe focused mostly on the way Google displayed search results, which critics said favored the company's own services over those of its competitors.

Under the FTC's settlement, a handful of companies can now choose to stop showing their results inside Google products like Google+ Local, Google Shopping, and Hotels. The search giant also agreed to voluntarily change the way it uses other Web sites' data. However, some regulators have complained that the settlement agreement was akin to a slap on the wrist and that despite the probe, Google is continuing to operate as normal with its search results looking more or less the same.

Now that Leibowitz is resigning from his post, he is likely to move onto the private sector where he intends to focus on competition policy and privacy, according to The New York Times. It's unclear who his successor will be.

CNET contacted the FTC for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.

 

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