The US Federal Trade Commission has announced that it is appointing Professor Edward Felten as its Chief Technologist, effective January 1, 2011. Dr. Felten is a professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University, and is the Director of the Center for Information Technology Policy [CITP], a joint venture of the university’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He also writes frequently on the CITP’s Freedom to Tinker blog, where he has discussed issues such as the use of Digital Rights Management [DRM], online privacy, and electronic voting. (His comment on his new job is posted there.) Princeton’s announcement of the appointment explains that Prof. Felten work at the FTC will be a continuation of his past research.
Felten will advise the agency on evolving technology-related issues of consumer protection, such as online privacy and cybersecurity, and antitrust matters, including tech-industry mergers and anticompetitive behavior.
Prof. Felten will be taking a leave of absence from Princeton during his one-year appointment at the FTC; Prof. Margaret Martonosi, also on the computer science faculty, will serve as Acting Director of the CITP in his absence.
Prof. Felten is very well regarded in the wider technology community, and a really good guy.
In announcing Felten’s appointment, the trade commission noted his expertise in computer security and privacy relating to consumer products, technology law and policy, Internet software, intellectual property policy, and the use of technology to improve government.
“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,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.
I’m glad to see that the FTC is making an effort to bring in some expertise in the new technologies that it has to deal with, and I think it has made an excellent choice in Prof. Felten.