Tech at FTC

I’m currently serving as the Chief Technologist of the Federal Trade Commission.

For the past few years, my work has focused primarily on consumer privacy, security, and surveillance. I had the pleasure of working Julia Angwin and the team at the Wall Street Journal on the multi-year What They Know series. I then teamed up with David Campbell and Aldo Cortesti to create a pretty fantastic mobile privacy company, MobileScope. Jer Thorp and the team at OCR invited me to collaborate on the development of the Floodwatch Chrome browser extension, which was released in mid-October. And most recently, I worked with the Washington Post’s national security and technology reporters, spearheaded by Barton Gellman, on an array of ground-breaking stories about surveillance and the NSA.

With this announcement, I am moving back to the regulatory side of these issues, extending the work that was started by my predecessors at the FTC: Dr. Latanya Sweeney, Dr. Steven Bellovin, and Dr. Edward Felten.

I’m extremely excited to return to the FTC in a new role as Chief Technologist and help move forward the agency’s work in protecting consumers’ privacy and security. I hope to leverage my experience and expertise in emerging technologies to help advance Chairwoman Ramirez’s goal of safeguarding consumers’ privacy, while ensuring they can reap the benefits of new innovations.

I’ve laid out some of my priorities in my first official post on the TechFTC blog but to recap:

Technological Capacity: As the consumer marketplace becomes more technology driven, so should consumer protection. At its recent FTC at 100 Symposium, a former Bureau of Consumer Protection director remarked that the FTC might soon be called the “Federal Technology Commission” as it moves into its second century.  I hope to support the  agency’s mission by drawing more tech talent into the agency as well as strengthening the relationships between the numerous technical experts and lawyers already working here.

Algorithmic Transparency: Along these lines, the FTC recently held apublic workshop entitled “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?”. I hope to expand the agency’s ability to measure big data’s disparate effects in order to ensure that the algorithms that consumers interact with on a daily basis afford them the same rights online as they’re entitled to offline.

Data Security: 60 Minutes recently dubbed 2014 ‘The Year of the Data Breach’. Data security is one of the most important aspects of a functioning marketplace and a critical aspect in consumer protection. I hope to enhance the agency’s own efforts in improving data security online and off.

While I will still maintain this blog and Twitter handle in my personal capacity, the bulk of my professional work will be featured on the Tech@FTC blog and Twitter. Press requests should be directed to the FTC Office ofPublic Affairs.