President Biden made his latest Federal Trade Commission appointment this week, calling on digital privacy expert Alvaro Bedoya to join the agency as it takes a close look at the tech industry.
Bedoya is the founding director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law School and previously served as a senior advisor to former Senator Al Franken and the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law. Bedoya has worked on legislation addressing some of the most pressing privacy concerns in tech, including harassment and facial recognition systems.
In 2016, Bedoya co-authored a report titled “The Perpetual Line-Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America,” a year-long investigation that deepened police use of facial recognition systems in the United States. . use of facial recognition systems and biometric databases at state level. He argued that regulations are desperately needed to reduce potential abuse and algorithmic failures before the technology inevitably becomes even more mainstream.
Bedoya doesn’t hesitate to call Big Tech either. In a New York Times editorial a few years ago, he attacked Silicon Valley companies for publicly attacking user privacy while quietly channeling millions of people into lobbyists to undermine it. consumer privacy. The new FTC nominee specifically targeted Facebook, highlighting the company’s efforts to undermine Illinois’ biometric privacy law, a state law that is one of the only significant practice checks. privacy invasives in the United States.
Bedoya argued that the tech industry would have an easier time crafting single, sweeping privacy regulations with its lobbying efforts rather than a flurry of targeted and smaller bills. Competition advocates in Congress who target technology today also seem to have learned the same lesson.
“We cannot underestimate the power of the tech sector in Congress and in state legislatures,” Bedoya wrote. “If the United States tries to pass general rules for personal data, this effort may well be co-opted by Silicon Valley, and we will miss our best shot at meaningful privacy protections.”
If confirmed, Bedoya will join Big Tech critic Lina Khan, a recent Biden FTC candidate who now chairs the agency. Khan’s focus on antitrust laws, and Amazon in particular, would dovetail with Bedoya’s focus on adjacent privacy concerns, making the pair a formidable regulatory presence as the Biden administration seeks to curb some of the excess. most damaging of the technology industry.