The appointment of an academic so well versed in both technology and policy somewhat eases the sting of the loss of several technology friendly Senators in this week’s elections. I interviewed Felten back in 2008 where I barely scratched the surface of his public policy work. I really cannot think of a better person to fill the role of Chief Technology Officer to the Federal Trade Commission.
From Princeton’s announcement:
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.
“The trade commission is heavily involved with issues that touch on technology,” Felten said. “Much of my research and the work of CITP focuses on issues of consumer protection and competitiveness. This is a chance for me to apply what I’ve been studying and see the policy-making process from the inside.”
Felten helped found Princeton’s Center for Information Technology and Policy. During his time at the FTC, he’ll be on leave from the university. Professor Margaret Martonosi will be acting director of the Center during his absence.
From Felten’s own announcement:
CITP is all about clarifying complex technology policy issues and helping policymakers better understand the choices they are making. I’m looking forward to putting this into practice in government–and then coming back to Princeton with a deeper knowledge of how policy is really made.
This is definitely exciting news for the space of technology policy. As privacy online has been drawing focus among policy makers, this could not have been better timed. I expect to follow Felten’s work at the FTC with great interest.
Dr. Felten Goes to Washington, Freedom to Tinker