Washington Post: Evolution of the FTC’s role

This morning’s Washington Post has an interesting piece about the evolution of the Federal Trade Commission:  “The FTC was built 100 years ago to fight monopolists; now it’s Washington’s most powerful technology cop,” the article begins.

The article mentions that, in the past, the FTC has at times been accused of overreaching, at one point even leading Congress to allow its funding to expire.  The agency has recently emphasized technological and privacy issues:

Today, tech companies are a routine target. This year alone, the agency accused Amazon of wrongfully charging parents millions of dollars for in-app purchases their children made; the movie-ticket site Fandango, of failing to properly encrypt credit card transactions; and Yelp, the app for crowdsourced reviews, of collecting children’s information without permission. As of August, the FTC had brought 57 cases against companies over data security.

“Part of the reason the FTC has gotten heavily into Internet technology, smartphones , Internet of things, algorithms,” Vladeck said, “is that’s where the consumer issues are migrating.”

As the actions pile up, agency critics worry about government overreach again. For instance, consumers may value easy in-app purchases as a feature rather than a bug…