The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled an April 25 vote on the nomination of Rebecca Kelly Slaughter to be a member of the Federal Trade Commission.
The committee held a hearing on her nomination last week, so the vote would be to favorably report her nomination to the full Senate.
Slaughter has been a long-term staffer for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). The FTC nomination is actually a Presidential pick, and while this has been anything but a traditional administration, tradition since the Clinton Administration has been to defer picks for seats not from the President's party have been deferred to the leader of the other party.
Slaughter was counsel and eventually chief counsel to Schumer, dealing with issues including consumer protection, patent trolls, privacy, and intellectual property.
The FTC is growing in importance with the FCC's decision to make it the chief net neutrality enforcement agency by reclassifying ISPs as information services under Title I.
At her hearing, Slaughter said she would make it a priority to make sure that, in an internet of things world, she would monitor to make sure companies were being good stewards of consumer data and "not engaging in the unfair and deceptive practices that are prohibited..."
Slaughter agreed with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that there were net neutrality enforcement concerns raised by what Markey, citing current Democratic FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny, said were the FTC's lack of telecom expertise. She said she would, if confirmed, enforce the law to its fullest extent, and working with others on improving the law to better protect consumers. That answer appeared to satisfy Markey, who pointed out that her husband was one of his former top staffers.
At that hearing, Schumer called her a "tough but fair negotiator who can get things done," particularly for American consumers.
Currently the FTC is down to members, acting chairman Maureen Ohlhausen, Republican, and McSweeny, Democrat, but the President has nominated, and Commerce has held hearings, on five new members (McSweeny and Ohlhausen would both be leaving).
FTC nominees Joseph Simons (chairman), Noah Joshua Phillips, Christine Wilson, and Rohit Chopra were already reported favorably by the committee Feb. 28, but have yet to get a full Senate vote. If Slaughter is also reportedly favorably out of committee, as expected, they will likely be approved as a package, perhaps even in an off-the-floor vote if it is unanimous.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.