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WASHINGTON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Jon Leibowitz, said on Thursday that he will step down in mid-February after a tenure that included a controversial decision to end a highly public probe of Google with only a mild reprimand.
Leibowitz told Reuters he will leave in the middle of next month and take some time off before beginning work in the private sector. He does not yet have a new post.
There are four people who are considered most likely to replace him. They include fellow commissioners Julie Brill and Edith Ramirez and Howard Shelanski, the director of the FTC's Bureau of Economics.
The fourth potential candidate is Philip Weiser, a veteran of the White House and Justice Department, who now teaches law at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Brill and Ramirez would not face confirmation by the Senate.
In the world of high-tech, Leibowitz will be known as the guy who took on Google, but did not win the tough settlement that many hoped for.
Also Leibowitz pursued brand name pharmaceutical companies who settled patent litigation with generic companies, with the brand name companies sometimes paying the generics to delay production of the cheaper drugs.
Leibowitz also made online privacy an issue, pushing unsuccessfully for companies to allow consumers to choose for themselves whether they wanted to be tracked online.
Under Leibowitz, the agency went after a long list of small-time scam artists who failed to deliver on promises to consumers to lower credit card interest rates or stave off foreclosures.