Bedoya Confirmed as Fifth FTC Commissioner; Congress Debates FTC Act Revisions
Alvaro Bedoya, a Democrat, was confirmed on May 11, 2022, to serve as the fifth Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). With the Senate deadlocked at 50-50 along partisan lines, Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote. Bedoya replaces former Commissioner Rohit Chopra, who left the FTC last October to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Bedoya will serve for a term of seven years (beginning September 26, 2019).
Bedoya founded the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University Law Center, where he was a Visiting Professor of Law. His academic work centered on privacy law, particularly the effects of facial recognition technology on race and gender. Prior to his tenure at Georgetown, Bedoya served as Chief Counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, where he worked on issues relating to mobile location privacy and biometrics, drafted bipartisan legislation to protect victims of sexual assault, and helped draft the USA FREEDOM Act.
Bedoya’s confirmation comes on the heels of a debate in Congress over the Consumer Protection Remedies Act of 2022 (S.4145), which would empower the FTC to seek court orders for restitution, refunds, rescission of contracts, or disgorgement where the FTC believes a company has violated Section 13 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA).
Section 13(b) of the FTCA allows the FTC to pursue injunctions against ongoing or future violations in court, and for years the FTC had requested – and courts had granted – equitable and monetary relief in the form of refunds or restitution. In April 2021, however, a unanimous Supreme Court held in AMG Capital Management that the clear language of Section 13(b) does not authorize such equitable monetary relief orders. The Consumer Protection Remedies Act would expressly authorize those orders. The FTC does have authority to seek monetary relief under the provisions of Section 19 of the FTCA, but the FTC seeks expanded authority to go directly to court to obtain both monetary and injunctive relief.
Currently, there is no House companion to the Consumer Protection Remedies Act, and some industry groups have raised objections to an expansion of FTC authority.