The Federal Trade Commission announced Nov. 4 it would appoint its first chief technologist to a one-year post.
Ed Felten, computer science and public policy professor at Princeton University, will take the helm of the FTC’s top tech position. Felten, who will take over in his new role in January, is also the founding director of the university’s Center for Information Technology Policy.
In his FTC role, he will provide advice and guidance to the agency about technology and policy issues.
Felten’s research focuses on computer security and policy, which aligns with both today’s evolving cyber world as well as FTC’s mission to investigate and prevent unfair, deceptive business practices.
In an interview with the Daily Princetonian after the appointment was made public, he spoke about the importance of security, especially at a time when security lapses on social networking sites like Facebook are causing second thoughts.
“It’s clear that people like social media,” he said, “but they also do care about what type of information they are providing. One of the missions of the FTC is protection of consumer privacy.”
Felten’s previous experiences working for the feds will likely mean he will be no stranger to his new role; he previously consulted for FTC and the Department of Justice. He has also testified before Congress on numerous tech policy issues.
Electronista calls Felten’s appointment the latest name in a list of “technology-aware” leaders to be appointed to positions within the federal government, following in the footsteps of tech paragons such as federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski.
Felten’s appointment also comes as FTC’s influence in creating technology policy may be strengthening, Elctronista reports, and Felten’s new role will only continue the trend.
“A chief technologist may give [FTC] direct insight into the nature of future mergers and policy approaches without having to immediately turn to consultants or other outside experts,” Electronista said.