The FTC Testifies Before Congress Using Fear in Their Thinly Veiled Grab for More Power
On April 2, 2014, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez performed a classic display of Government Agency Contempt of Congress as she attempted to seduce Congress into giving her agency more power. She wants power to further pound companies into submission before they can get to a fair and impartial court, power to mislead the public regarding FTC effectiveness, and power to keep Congress from understanding that bully agencies like the FTC keep the American public exploited by hackers and cybercriminals.
With all the chest beating of the US Government agency complex, I remind you that Edward Snowden walked out with a thumb drive. Hero or traitor is not the issue. The issue is hero or traitor, someone walked out with a thumb drive. In the meantime, Edith Ramirez and her merry band of sheriffs want to keep beating up victims. This may make for great theater, this may allow hollow congressmen to back slap and light cigars, but this will never solve the problem.
The tools that Chairwoman Ramirez employs come straight out of the FTC’s “congressional testimonial strategy handbook”; speak briefly using broad and vague terms, assume Congress approves your powers until restricted otherwise, use Heads on Spikes to show the world all the “good” you are doing while you scare everyone else by implying this could happen to them, and finally, keep your mouth shut about the false confessions extracted by holding guns to the heads of victims.
As the FTC knows all too well, the dead and injured are unable to give their side of the story. And who needs to be bothered by petty annoyances like due process and legal integrity when there is so much to do?
Let’s dig a bit further into a couple of their favorite tricks:
Assume regulatory powers are theirs until stopped by Congress or the Courts
The FTC chants every morning like a drunken yogi that they have “broad powers assigned by Congress”. They think that means they rule the world. Given what we have seen from the IRS when an agency is given “broad powers”, this is nothing to brag about. But Congress, in its infinite laziness and fear of public accountability, tossed away the political hot potato by creating regulatory agencies intent on executing Congress’s dirty work. It’s Congress’s version of outsourcing.
While Congress has never assigned the FTC power to regulate data security, the FTC screams “loophole”. Congress didn’t state the FTC didn’t have the power, so, to the assumptive FTC, that means they do. If you want to climb Justice Mountain to get a federal court to rule otherwise, you are going to have to pony up at least a million dollars while Congress stays asleep at the wheel. In the meantime, the courts may roll their eyes and rule that, yes, it is a terrible law, but it is Congress’s terrible law, not the courts, so if you want change it, go complain to Congress.
This is called “running the prisoner until he drops”. There isn’t a more inefficient and corrupt road to justice that waiting for Congress to get something done. And the FTC knows this. They revel in it. The power that the FTC has stacks the deck dramatically in their favor.
Congress probably doesn’t even realize it lets the FTC:
- Make their own rules.
- Police themselves.
- Oversee their own internal administrative court system (think kangaroos).
This has completely shredded the founding fathers intent in separating government powers. We don’t have to speak in theory now…we are currently experiencing a plethora of government agency overreach under the guise of saving the world. “Trust but verify” has been replaced with “trust us you fool”.
Parade around DC with Heads on Spikes
She makes it sound so sweet, but Ramirez is a hissing snake as she announces her list of consent decrees that she likes to call “settlements”. It would be more accurate to call them extortions. She repeatedly disparages prior companies that had no idea they would receive this repeatedly public reputation assassination for years to come. Failing to mention her buried fine print that clearly states no wrongdoing was admitted, here arrives more lying through omission.
Companies blocked from their day in even a lopsided and biased court, because they were forced to choose between settling or draining their bank accounts, then continually assassinating their reputation for years to come in hearings and print is a disgusting display of misleading the public and the companies the FTC “settles” with.
We now observe there is no real settling with the FTC. They have become a chronic disease, at every turn forgetting our foundational right of innocence until proven guilty. Yet the FTC extorts these decrees and then brags like they won a jury verdict. Ramirez plays her poker well. She doesn’t have to act long. Congress will move their attentions to something else in a matter of moments. Mission accomplished.
And are we safer? No.
What the FTC doesn’t want you to know is that so many of the files floating around cyberspace are precisely due to the FTC’s ignorance and incompetence. In my new book, The Devil Inside the Beltway, I specifically lay out how the FTC blew the corrective control of P2P malware. Giving a regulatory agency power over technology is like handing Kathleen Sebelius a scalpel and sending her into surgery. This is a dangerous game.
Keep your mouth shut about the false confessions extracted by holding guns to the heads of victims
Congress has allowed the FTC to play judge, jury and prosecutor in their Administrative court, making their rules so lopsided that their victims are beaten into submission and silence. With silenced victims, Congress stays blissfully ignorant of the medieval tactics their spawn employs.
In these congressionally created star chambers, called administrative court, the FTC has the power to:
- Rule on motions to dismiss, rather than the judge
- Rule on motions to quash, rather than the judge
- Require defendants to get FTC signature approval before sending subpoenas.
- Reject the judge’s ruling.
I could go on…but you get the point. And what does the media do? Nothing. The power slant is so outrageous yet hidden the media can’t comprehend it. That would involve paying attention for more than five seconds.
As long as the FTC keeps it on the down low, plays circle and confuse but is sweet in front of Congress, and gets the hell out of the hearing as fast as possible, this charade is going to continue. Our safety, however, will continue to erode.
The FTC is a fearsome bully that has made us less safe. Shut down the FTC and any and all other agencies that put their job security in front of the national security. This is the tip of the iceberg and it is even chillier below the surface.