Rohit Chopra got off on the wrong foot less than two weeks into his new job last year at the Federal Trade Commission. That was when he fired off a memo to the entire agency, including his four fellow FTC commissioners, titled “Repeat Offenders.”
The memo suggested the agency was at risk of losing its credibility as a law enforcer. Chopra called for corporate recidivists to face severe consequences to make clear “that our orders are to be taken seriously.” The memo, which sparked a backlash among career officials, was a brash break with tradition at the agency, where new commissioners typically spend their first weeks or even months meeting with senior staff and their peer commissioners, learning how things operate at the 1,100-person agency.
That brashness was on display again last month, when Chopra issued a scathing dissent from a decision by the FTC’s Republican majority to fine Facebook $5 billion for privacy violations and require the company to take specific steps to protect users’ personal data.