FTC Gets a CT — That's a Chief Technologist

Last week, the FTC appointed Princeton University professor Edward Felten to a newly created position: Chief Technologist. As the agency's first chief technologist, Felten will be tasked with advising the agency on evolving technology and policy issues. Felten brings to the new position a wealth of experience. His research at Princeton University has focused on computer science and public affairs and he is the founding director of the Center for Information Technology Policy, a research center studying the connection between digital technology and government policies. Felten is also no stranger to Washington D.C., having previously served as a part-time consultant at the FTC and having advised several federal agencies on technology policy. Notably, he was heavily involved in advising the DOJ Antitrust Division in their case against Microsoft between 1998 and 2002. Throughout his career, Felten has exposed the potential weaknesses of digital security and privacy in everything from music-encryption technology to voting machines. In 2003, Scientific American awarded him for his critiques of digital privacy. Scientific American noted, "Corporations intent on monopolizing the digital economy have come to fear Edward Felten, who has fought their claims with technical analysis sharpened by a sense of the ridiculous." In making the announcement, Chairman Liebowitz stated, "Ed is extraordinarily respected in the technology community, and his background and knowledge make him an outstanding choice to serve as the agency's first Chief Technologist." In Felten, the FTC has likely found a strong ally in addressing the evolving technology-related issues that face the agency, such as online privacy and cyber-security. The creation of this new position and the appointment of Felten underscore the FTC's recent heightened focus on technology-related issues. Felten will begin his one-year appointment in January of 2011, taking a leave of absence from his work at Princeton. – Tiana Russell

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