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For the comedian born Jonathan Leibowitz, see Jon Stewart

Jon Leibowitz (born June 17, 1958) is the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, an independent agency of the United States Government. He was sworn in as a commissioner on September 3, 2004, and became chairman on March 2, 2009.

In joining the Commission, Leibowitz resumed a long career of public service. He was the Democratic Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Antitrust Subcommittee (1997–2000), where he focused on competition policy and telecommunications matters and was known for developing bipartisan consensus. He served as Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism and Technology from 1995 to 1996 and the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice (1991–1994). In addition, he served as Chief Counsel to Senator Herb Kohl (1989–2000) and worked for Senator Paul Simon (1986–1987). Leibowitz was the Motion Picture Association of America's Vice President for Congressional Affairs (2000–2004), and an attorney in private practice in Washington, D.C.marker (1984–1986).

Life and career

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Wisconsinmarker with a B.A. in American History (1980), Leibowitz graduated from the New York University School of Lawmarker in 1984. He is a member of the District of Columbiamarker Bar, and has co-authored amicus curiæ briefs before the U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker on issues ranging from gun control to under-counting in the census.

During his tenure at the FTC, Leibowitz has dedicated himself to a variety of competition and consumer protection issues.


Leibowitz has been a critic of “pay-for-delay” settlements in the pharmaceutical industry. According to FTC testimony, pay-for-delay settlements (also known as “reverse payments”) are anticompetitive agreements between brand name and generic pharmaceutical companies in which the brand company essentially pays its competitor to delay entry of a generic drug into the market. As Leibowitz explained, the practice results not only in windfalls for both companies—sometimes of more than a billion dollars—but also in higher drug prices for consumers. Leibowitz has testified before Congress on behalf of the Commission supporting legislation to ban these settlements, has published articles on this issue and advocates bringing cases against firms that engage in these practices.

Internet, Telecom and Technology

Leibowitz has been particularly involved in various Internet issues, from fighting spam and spyware to creating effective guidelines for online behavioral targeting (the practice of collecting Internet users’ unique browsing history to target advertising), to ensuring that website privacy policies are clear and accessible to consumers. He has urged the Commission to “name names” of advertisers who paid to advertise through so-called nuisance adware, software that displays or downloads advertisements on consumers’ computers without their consent. Leibowitz has also advocated for balanced “Net Neutrality” rules and for the right of municipalities to offer broadband to consumers free from restrictive state laws.

Advertising and Marketing to Children

Leibowitz has called for strong industry self-regulatory initiatives to help combat childhood obesity and ensure that only healthier foods and beverages are marketed to America’s children. He has also advocated continued review of entertainment industry marketing practices to prevent children from being exposed to inappropriate content. The Commission has completed five reports on this topic since 2000.


Leibowitz was the one commissioner to dissent on a 2007 FTC Report on Spring/Summer 2006 Nationwide Gasoline Price Increases, which found that the increase could be explained by market forces. Leibowitz suggested that the plausible explanation for the increase in gasoline prices that the Commission found was not necessarily the only explanation. “The question you ask determines the answer you get,” he wrote, “whatever theoretical justifications exist don’t exclude the real world threat that there was profiteering at the expense of consumers." Similarly, in an earlier report investigating accusations of price gouging by oil companies after Hurricane Katrina, Leibowitz wrote separately to note that a handful of refiners studied displayed “troubling” conduct.

Competition Enforcement Beyond the Sherman Act

Leibowitz has advocated for a re-invigorated enforcement of the FTC Act as a way to stop anticompetitive behavior that can no longer be reached under prevailing judicial interpretation of the antitrust laws. Leibowitz argued that in founding the FTC, “Congress intended to create an agency with authority that extended beyond the limits of the Sherman Antitrust Act.” Leibowitz has supported the use of Section 5 of the FTC Act (“unfair methods of competition”) beyond the Sherman Act in standard setting cases and in a case involving a failed agreement to fix prices. With Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch (a Republican) and Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour (an Independent), Leibowitz recently criticized a Department of Justicemarker Report on monopolization, saying that DoJ’s approach placed “a thumb on the scales in favor of firms with monopoly or near-monopoly power and against other equally significant stakeholders."

Further reading


  2. Leibowitz, Jon. Statement to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Anticompetitive Patent Settlements in the Pharmaceutical Industry: The Benefits of a Legislative Solution, Hearing, January 17, 2007. Available at: Accessed: 11/4/08
  3. Teinowitz, Ira. "FTC to Point Finger of Shame at Adware Users; Commissioner Threatens to Out Marketers Passing Content Without Consent," Advertising Age, Dec. 5, 2005.
  4. Leibowitz, Jon. (2007, February). Navigating Between Dystopian Worlds on Network Neutrality: With Misery and Wretchedness on Each Side, Can We Find a Third Way? Speech presented at Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy Workshop, Washington, DC. Available: Accessed 11/4/08.
  5. Urken, Ross Kenneth. "FTC Commissioner Tackles Ads for Kids: Official Leads Charge for Food, Drink Firms to Regulate Themselves," The Wall Street Journal, Aug 20, 2008. Available: Accessed 11/4/08
  6. "FTC Issues Report on Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children," Federal Trade Commission Press Release, Apr. 12, 2007. Available: Accessed 11/4/08.
  7. "FTC, Antitrust Division Send Report to President on Factors Explaining National Average Price Increases During Spring and Summer of 2006," Federal Trade Commission Press Release, Aug. 30, 2007. Available: Accessed 11/4/08.
  8. Leibowitz, Jon. "Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Leibowitz Regarding the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice Antitrust Division Report on Spring/Summer 2006 Nationwide Gasoline Price Increases," Aug. 30, 2007. Available: Accessed 11/4/08.
  9. Leibowitz, Jon. "Concurring Statement of Commissioner Jon Leibowitz Regarding the Commission's Report, 'Investigation of Gasoline Price Manipulation and Post-Katrina Gasoline Price Increases,'" May 22, 2006. Available: Accessed 11/4/08.
  10. Leibowitz, Jon. (2008, October). "Tales from the Crypt." Episodes '08 and '09: The Return of Section 5 ("Unfair Methods of Competition are Hereby Declared Unlawful"). Speech presented at Federal Trade Commission Workshop: Section 5 of the FTC Act as a Competition Statute, Washington, DC. Available: Accessed 11/4/08.
  11. Leibowitz, Jon. "Concurring Opinion of Commissioner Jon Leibowitz in the Matter of Rambus, Inc.," Aug 2, 2006. Available: Accessed 11/4/08; "Statement of the Federal Trade Commission In the Matter of Negotiated Data Solutions LLC," Jan 23, 2008. Available: Accessed 11/4/08.
  12. In re Valassis Communications, Inc. (FTC File No. 051 008)(Mar. 16, 2006). Available: Accessed 11/4/08.
  13. "Another Thumb on the Scales," Editorial, The New York Times, Nov. 1, 2008. Available: Accessed 11/4/08.

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