FTC's new chief technologist to shape online privacy policy

Monday - 11/15/2010, 7:24pm EST

Ed Felten, incoming Chief Technologist, FTC

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The Federal Trade Commission's new chief technologist will help mold the agency's public policy on online privacy and modern technologies.

Princeton University professor Ed Felten is currently the founding director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University. He begins work with the FTC in January while taking a one-year sabbatical from Princeton.

Felten told the DorobekINSIDER the biggest challenge of online privacy is "balancing the interest of members of the public in controlling information about themselves and protecting their privacy against the desire not to over-regulate reasonable business practices."

Felten also has the task of helping the FTC adopt technologies that can make work more effective and efficient.

The first step of using a new technology is doing the same things as before. But it's when people reorganize lives and their work structure that the technology's "deeper possibilities" are evident, he said.

Part of his job as chief technologist also includes building up the technical skills of the workforce.

Technology adoption is not always immediate, but Felten said he feels confident he can help make changes during his time with the FTC.

"Obviously that's going to go at a government pace, but I think when we look back we'll say this is a pace that went fast, at least by government standards," Felten said.