Biden nominates data protection attorney Alvaro Bedoya as FTC commissioner | Trout Man Pepper

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On September 13, President Biden announced his intention to appoint data protection officer Alvaro Bedoya as commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If confirmed, Bedoya will take over from Rohit Chopra, whom President Biden has nominated as the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), we reported here.

Bedoya is currently the founding director of the Center on Privacy & Technology (CPT) in Georgetown Law, where he is also a visiting professor. His scholarship focuses on the idea that privacy is a civil right that also implies civil liberties, in particular he argues that privacy is a civil right because “it is about human dignity” and that privacy implies civil liberties because government surveillance “jeopardized Threatening people for whom they fight ”. Equal rights.”[1]

In one of his most important works, Bedoya and two co-authors published a study that claims to be “the most comprehensive survey yet on law enforcement facial recognition and the risks it poses to privacy, civil liberties and civil rights.”[2] The study claims that law enforcement databases contain the biometric information of over 117 million American adults and that facial recognition technology is “racially biased” and, as the “history of FBI and police surveillance of civil rights protests” shows, a “real” risk ” used to “stifle free speech”.[3]

Building on this study, Bedoya has been a vocal critic of government oversight and the companies that facilitate the government’s collection and use of data. He has sharply criticized the use of big data by the US Immigration and Customs Service ICE to identify immigrants for deportation.[4] In addition, he has repeatedly argued that the use of data, whether by governments or private corporations, has “different effects” on marginalized groups, arguing, for example, that “the effects of consumer persecution vary widely by race, class and power. ”[5]

Prior to joining Georgetown, Bedoya was the first chief counsel on the Senate Justice Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and Law. Bedoya is a naturalized citizen born in Peru and graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School.

In response to Bedoya’s nomination, FTC Chair Lina Khan released a statement of support stating that Bedoya’s “surveillance and data security expertise and longstanding commitment to public service would be of tremendous value to the Commission if we were to do it work to meet this moment of enormous demand ”. and opportunity. “

Public Knowledge also issued a statement of support, claiming that Bedoya had “shown himself to be a champion of the public interest,” “paved a way to hold big tech accountable,” and “spent his career fighting for the powerless, especially those who are powerless.” in immigrant communities ”. . “

In response to his nomination, Bedoya tweeted, “It is the honor of my life to be nominated for the FTC. When my family landed at JFK in 1987 with 4 suitcases and a student scholarship, we didn’t expect that. “

Our opinion. If confirmed as FTC commissioner, Bedoya will likely become the FTC’s leading voice on privacy and security issues. It is also likely to focus on harm to marginalized groups, both in consumer protection and competition matters. And in all of this, he will likely join FTC chairman Lina Khan in pushing the FTC into a more aggressive enforcement and rulemaking agenda.


[1] Alvaro Bedoya, Data protection as a civil right, 50 NML Rev. 301, 306 (2020).

[2] Alvaro Bedoya, Clare Garvie & Jonathan Frankle, The Perpetual Line-Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America (Center on Privacy & Technology October 18, 2016), available at https://www.perpetuallineup.org/ (last visited on September 15, 2021).

[3] ID card.

[4] Alvaro Bedoya, “The cruel new era of data-driven deportation”, slate, September 22, 2022.

[5] See, e.g., Alvaro Bedoya, “A License to Discrimination”, The New York Times, June 6, 2018.


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