FTC names Princeton computer security expert as first chief technologist
The enforcement agency, which oversees antitrust issues and the protection of consumers from fraud and deceit, has taken on several high-profile technology cases in recent years. Felten's expertise is in computer security and privacy. His hiring should bring technological know-how to increasing debates on what role the federal government should have over how firms such as Google and Facebook collect and use consumer data.
Last summer, the FTC settled with Intel Corp. after threatening to sue the firm for anticompetitive behavior in the chip market. It recently closed an investigation into a privacy breach by Google, whose use of Street View picture-taking accidentally scarfed up residential Internet user information through Wi-Fi networks. In June, Twitter settled with the agency after an investigation found lapse security measures that allowed hackers to obtain user information.
The FTC is expected to announce recommendations for how lawmakers and the Internet industry should best protect privacy on the Web.
Felten will add "unparalleled expertise on high-technology markets and computer security," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. "And he also will provide invaluable input into the recommendations we'll be making soon for online privacy, as well as the enforcement actions we'll soon bring to protect consumer privacy."
Felten is a professor of computer science and public affairs and founding director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton. He is a consultant for the FTC and will begin with the agency full-time in January.
Felten's research has included computer security and privacy, especially relating to consumer products; technology law and policy; Internet software; intellectual property policy; and technology and government, according to the FTC.
photo: Edward Felten
credit: Princeton University
By Cecilia Kang | November 4, 2010; 4:34 PM ET