FTC names Edward W. Felten as agency’s Chief Technologist

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz today announced the appointment of Edward W. Felten as the agency’s first Chief Technologist. In his new position, Dr. Felten will advise the agency on evolving technology and policy issues.

Dr. Felten is a professor of computer science and public affairs and founding director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University. He has served as a consultant to federal agencies, including the FTC, and departments of Justice and Defense, and has testified before Congress on a range of technology, computer security, and privacy issues. He is a fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery and recipient of the Scientific American 50 Award. Felten holds a Ph.D. in computer science and engineering from the University of Washington.

Dr. Felten’s research has focused on areas including computer security and privacy, especially relating to consumer products; technology law and policy; Internet software; intellectual property policy; and using technology to improve government.

“Ed is extraordinarily respected in the technology community, and his background and knowledge make him an outstanding choice to serve as the agency’s first Chief Technologist,” Leibowitz said in the press release. “He’s going to add unparalleled expertise on high-technology markets and computer security. 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. We’re thrilled to have him on board.”

Dr. Felten currently is a part-time consultant for the FTC. He will start full time as Chief Technologist in January.

Chairman Leibowitz also announced that Eileen Harrington has been named the agency’s Executive Director. Harrington comes to the FTC from a 15-month stint as Chief Operating Officer at the U.S. Small Business Administration. Previously, she served for 25 years at the FTC, starting as a staff attorney and assuming a variety of senior management positions in the Bureau of Consumer Protection, including Associate Director for Marketing Practices, Deputy Director, and Acting Director. Harrington has a long list of accomplishments from her tenure at the FTC. Perhaps most notably, she received the prestigious Service to America Medal for leading the team that created the National Do Not Call Registry.

“This is a very happy homecoming,” said Leibowitz. “Eileen has made an invaluable contribution to the FTC in the past, and her strong management skills, enthusiasm, and creativity will once again be put to use for the betterment of the agency and for American consumers. We are delighted to have her back.”

Source: U.S. Federal Trade Commission


  1. Hopefully this guy will address the concerns of the Internet using public about the rampant and widespread collection of data on users visiting such sites as MDN.

    Firefox with Ghostery add-on installed found the following 8 web bugs from these companies just on this page alone!

    AddThis, Google Adsense, Google Analytics, LinkShare, Quantcast, Tweetmeme, Value Click Mediaplex and Vibrant Ads

    And that’s just the one’s we know about, it seems like dozens of new web bugs are created every week as the bug lists have to be constantly updated to maintain one’s privacy.

    Then of course there are Flash cookies, which one needs BetterPrivacy installed to delete those.

    A so called “EverCookie” which replicates any deleted cookies in other areas of one’s system. So it requires all cookies, flash etc to be deleted at one time. (Safari in Private Browsing mode is the only browser, without plug-ins, capable of deleting EverCookies, but does nothing about web bugs)

    I sure hope Apple doesn’t take the Google route “we are a advertising company” that specializes in collecting users on line behavior.

    Now there is this thing called FireSheep, which allows another computer user, say at a unsecured local wifi coffeshop, to HIJACK YOUR COOKIES and impersonate you at sites you log into at.

    Doesn’t work for https (secure connections) but it does work for say MDN, or FaceBook or Twitter…

  2. My mistake, Ghostery is now available for Safari via the plug-ins menu.

    Make sure you set the auto-update, select all web bugs and enable blocking on them and turn on GhostRank to report new bugs as they appear.

    So Apple’s Safari in Private Browsing mode with Ghostery properly installed will protect your privacy on line.

    Of course you need AdBlock Plus too, as that is used to collect information just by downloading ads off their servers…

  3. valuable input on computer security ? disconnecting a few tens of millions of Windows PC’ from the internet..

    It’s that many businesses and people still hanging on with XP that’s the problem.

    Once everyone is up on Windows 7, the malware/botnets etc will decline considerably.

    The reason a lot of businesses haven’t upgraded to Win 7 is because applications built using the IE 6 framework won’t run on Windows 7.

    So all these IE 6 integrated applications have to be rebuilt, often without IE at all, which will cost considerable amount of money. So it’s technically less expensive to just have IT re-image the broken Windows XP.

    Eventually Microsoft will no longer support XP with updates, but businesses have been howling because they are caught in the middle of a recession, yada, yada…

  4. @ Killjoy Deluxe

    Thanks for the Ghostery tip. I put it on Safari and it was amazing how many web bugs turned up from sites ranging from the BBC to MDN.

    MDN does seem like the worst offender which is not surprising considering the number of ads on the pages.

    I don’t really have a problem having info collected provided it is anonymous. But since I don’t know what they collect I am blocking them from now on.

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