Washington, DC - I’d like to introduce myself as the new Chief Technologist of the FTC, following in the footsteps of my predecessors, Latanya Sweeney, Steve Bellovin, and Ed Felten. As the Commission enters its 100th year, technological expertise will be more important than ever, and I’m excited to lead this charge.
In this regard, my agenda will include the following:
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 a public 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.
Like my predecessors, I will continue to blog here and Tweet via @TechFTC about some of the more technical aspects of the agency’s work. Wish me luck! ~ Ashkan Soltani, Chief Technologist FTC