FTC appoints privacy researcher Soltani as chief technologist

Soltani has assisted newspapers with investigations of government surveillance and online privacy

Ashkan Soltani, a security and privacy researcher, is the new chief technologist at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Ashkan Soltani, a security and privacy researcher, is the new chief technologist at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission's new chief technologist is high-profile digital privacy consultant Ashkan Soltani, a move that signals the agency's growing interest in policing online tracking and other Internet privacy issues.

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez announced Tuesday she has appointed Soltani, a security researcher who shared the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for stories about the U.S. National Security Agency's surveillance programs, as the agency's chief technologist.

Soltani will join the FTC in November and offer advice on technology and policy issues, including digital privacy, an area in which the agency has increasingly focused on bringing enforcement actions.

A technology consultant and researcher, Soltani has focused on privacy and security issues for more than 20 years. He previously worked at the FTC in 2010 and 2011 as a staff technologist.

The FTC, in recent years, has treated the chief technologist position as a rotating one, with temporary appointments of tech experts from industry and academia.

Soltani's appointment earned praise from several privacy advocates. "The FTC continues to hire absolutely outstanding chief technologists," tweeted Chris Soghoian, principal technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

"FTC hires a privacy/security samurai," tweeted Jules Polonetsky, executive director of the Future of Privacy Forum.

During his past work at the FTC, Soltani assisted with privacy investigations of Google and Facebook. He worked as a technical consultant to The Wall Street Journal for the newspaper's "what they know" series investigating online tracking that began in 2010.

Soltani has also worked as a technical expert for multiple state attorneys general. His career also includes a stint as an investigative reporter for the Washington Post, sharing the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service with his co-authors for the newspaper's coverage of NSA surveillance programs. Earlier in his career, Soltani was employed as a manager and consultant for two security technology companies, including Sophos.

He succeeds Latanya Sweeney as FTC chief technologist. Sweeney is returning to Harvard University, where she founded and directs Harvard's Data Privacy Lab.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags U.S. Federal Trade CommissionregulationU.S. National Security AgencyEdith RamirezgovernmentChris SoghoianprivacyAshkan SoltaniFuture of Privacy ForumAmerican Civil Liberties UnionsecurityJules Polonetsky

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?