FTC chairman to announce plans to depart the agency

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz will announce on Friday that he plans to depart the agency.

Leibowitz has served on the commission since 2004 and has been chairman of the agency since 2009. Rumors have been swirling for months about Leibowitz's plans to leave the FTC following the presidential election this fall.

During his tenure at the commission, Leibowitz has stressed the importance of enforcing privacy protections and the agency settled charges with Facebook and MySpace, among others, for running afoul of their privacy agreements. 

But Leibowitz will be best known for leading the agency as it closed its sweeping antitrust investigation into Google's business practices. The FTC ultimately decided to take no action against Google in regards to claims that the search giant manipulated its search results to ensure its own services, such as Google Maps and YouTube, are posted above its rivals' products online.

The decision was slammed by a coalition of Google's rivals, such as Microsoft and Kayak.

The trade agency is holding a press conference call for reporters on Friday in which it will unveil a staff report on how mobile leaders can inform consumers about their privacy practices and will also announce a related law enforcement action. It's expected that Leibowitz will announce his plans to step down from the FTC during the press conference.

The Washington Post first reported the news about Leibowitz's departure.

Some of the lead contenders for the chairman's role are the FTC's two Democratic commissioners, Julie Brill and Edith Ramirez. Brill is widely believed to want the top job but at this point it's unclear who will be Leibowitz's successor.