Privacy advocate will be new Big Tech threat at FTC

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The Biden administration sent another warning to Big Tech on Monday, naming longtime privacy advocate Alvaro Bedoya to the Federal Trade Commission.

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why it matters: Bedoya’s expertise on data collection and surveillance, combined with Biden’s choice to lead the FTC, technical anti-legal scholar Lena Khan, prompts aggressive action from both the agency’s consumer protection and antitrust weapons.

running news: As Nerdshala first reported, Bedoya was tapped to fill the third Democratic seat on the five-member commission, which was expected to be vacated by Commissioner Rohit Chopra, whom Biden appointed to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. was nominated for.

  • Bedoya, a naturalized US citizen born in Peru, is the founding director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law School, a think tank focused on privacy and surveillance policy.
  • He has worked on facial recognition and algorithmic bias, including in 2016 report good Which found that 1 in 2 US adults are in law enforcement facial recognition systems.
  • Bedoya was an aide to former Sen. Al Franken (D-Min) and chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Privacy Subcommittee.
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Flashback: Franken was the first chairman of the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and Law, which began looking into concerns about the use of mobile location data in early 2011.

  • “Ten years ago when it wasn’t as prominent as a political issue, Alvaro was already paying attention to user privacy, and he has been digging into it relentlessly ever since,” said Charlotte Sleman, who worked with Franken. Bedoya in the office and is now Director of Competition Policy at Public Knowledge.
  • “I expect him to aggressively investigate Big Tech and other companies exploiting people’s data.”

yes but: During his time on the Hill, Bedoya maintained an open channel with tech companies, and even during disagreements, it was never “vitrial”, CEO of the tech industry group Chamber of Progress and former Google’s US Policy Strategy. Leader Adam Kovacevich said. and the Foreign Affairs team.

  • “He’s someone who believes that in making progress, it can be easier if you invite the industry to chat instead of shouting from the sidewalk,” Kovacevich said. “I think it’s real. I hope he brings the same approach to the FTC.”
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What are they saying: Bedoya’s nomination was supported by civil rights and anti-monopoly groups.

  • “Alvaro has been a steadfast advocate for accountability in the deployment of algorithmic systems,” said Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League.
  • “I hope he will steer the FTC toward establishing redlines and guidelines for a range of facial recognition technologies that continue to demonstrate performance disparities based on skin type, race, gender, age and ability “

big picture: The Biden administration has encouraged the FTC to do its job on privacy by creating rules in the areas of unfair data collection and “monitoring practices that could harm competition, consumer autonomy and consumer privacy.” executive Order on the competition.

  • Sarah Miller, executive director of anti-monopoly group American Economic Liberties, said, “Our expectation is that their expertise will truly complement the antitrust work, and the FTC will continue to embrace what we see as not only an aggressive but a transformative agenda.” I see.” Project.

During this, House Democrats last week FTC offer to give An additional $1 billion to create a new privacy and data protection bureau as part of their comprehensive $3.5 trillion spending package.

What will happen next: Bedoya would have to be confirmed by the Senate, which would also have to vote on Chopra’s nomination to head the CFPB.

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