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Joe Biden to be nominated for facial recognition for the FTC

Joe Biden to be nominated for facial recognition for the FTC

President Joe Biden is expected to nominate privacy hawk Alvaro Bedoya to the Federal Trade Commission, as first reported by Axios on Monday.

Bedoya is a professor at Georgetown University's Law School, focusing on privacy law. If confirmed, he would replace current Democratic commissioner Rohit Chopra, who was nominated to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this year. In 2014, Bedoya founded the Georgetown Center on Privacy and Technology. He also served as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and Law, chaired by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).

Bedoya's expected nomination comes at a time when the FTC has faced stiff scrutiny
Bedoya, a naturalized immigrant from Peru, has researched the effects of facial recognition technologies on minority groups. The Privacy and Technology Center was particularly critical of facial recognition during his tenure, which conducted several surveys of the expanding scope of the technology and the potential for racial bias. In 2015, Bedoya, along with eight other advocates, withdrew from the Commerce Department's privacy and facial recognition platform, arguing that the project would not be sufficient to protect consumers.

Bedoya's expected nomination comes at a time when the FTC has faced intense scrutiny over its light-hearted approach to privacy regulation. In 2019, the FTC settled with Facebook over its Cambridge Analytica scandal, securing a $5 billion fine and several new consumer protection promises. Despite the large numbers, many, including Democratic commissioners, saw the deal as not good enough.

At the time, Chopra issued a statement saying, "The settlement does not make any meaningful changes to the company's structure or financial incentives."

In July, the FTC approved a new rule-making process that could make it easier for the agency to enforce new privacy rules on its own -- without the help of Congress. If confirmed, Bedoya could help create new privacy rules.

The White House has yet to formally designate Bedoya as the publication. After being nominated, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Bedoya before voting to approve the nomination.

FTC Chair Leena Khan was officially confirmed by the Senate in June. Over the past few months, this has created an aggressive antitrust agenda for the agency, especially as it pertains to the tech industry.

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