One hundred years ago today, the New York Times’ news pages were filled with coverage of the outbreak of World War I in Europe. There were stories about the newly opened Panama Canal and the growing movement for women’s suffrage. For $200, an ad in the paper offered readers the chance to purchase a Victrola phonograph.
Two weeks earlier in September 1914, readers of the Times may also have noticed a news item under the single-column headline: “Trade Board Bill Wind-Up.” It reported that Congress had enacted new antitrust legislation creating a bipartisan, five-member body called the Federal Trade Commission.
When President Woodrow Wilson signed the FTC Act on September 26, 1914, he opened the first chapter in the ongoing story of the nation’s leading consumer agency.
Today, on the FTC’s anniversary, it’s an opportunity for us to reflect on the agency’s long and successful history of fostering honest business practices and robust competition in the marketplace and take stock of the FTC’s bright future.
Few could have predicted the dramatic changes – overseas and at home – that would transform the United States and our economy over the last century. In the years after President Wilson signed the FTC Act, then-cutting edge technologies like movies and radio dramatically reshaped U.S. commerce. Our economy is now being transformed by, among other things, wireless communications services, the Internet of Things, and Big Data.
Through the decades and all of these dramatic changes, the FTC has played the same trusted role – promoting competition and the interests of American consumers using the tried-and-true tools of law enforcement, sound public policy, and consumer education.
I’m proud that the FTC continues to be on the cutting edge of rapid economic and technological changes. No doubt the next century will bring even more transformation that will impact the American economy and consumers. I’m confident that the FTC is well-positioned to meet the challenges of the next 100 years, and that it will continue to carry out successfully its mission on behalf of consumers.