July 19, 2024

Dr. Felten Goes to Washington

Today the Federal Trade Commission announced that I will become their Chief Technologist, effective January 1. My main role at the FTC will be to provide advice on technology policy issues. (Princeton has an announcement too.)

What does this mean for Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy? During my time at the FTC, I’ll be on leave from Princeton, and my colleague Prof. Margaret Martonosi will be Acting Director of CITP. Margaret will bring fresh ideas to CITP, and I know that she is committed to maintaining CITP’s active programs of public events, visiting fellows, and student engagement. CITP’s wonderful staff will help to maintain continuity and keep things running smoothly.

CITP is all about clarifying complex technology policy issues and helping policymakers better understand the choices they are making. I’m looking forward to putting this into practice in government–and then coming back to Princeton with a deeper knowledge of how policy is really made.


  1. Although I am sorry to hear that you won’t be blogging here much, I am very glad to know that the FTC will have the benefit of your advice in setting policy related to new technology. Congratulations and very best wishes.

  2. Andrew Black says

    Actually having experts who understand the issues making policy in Washington sounds like a good idea. I wonder why we never did this before? Who knows, maybe next, there will be climate scientists trying to figure out what to do about climate change.

    Seriously, this is great news. I hope that you come back from this stint wiser and with even more awareness of these complex issues.

  3. Can you still blog?

    • Unfortunately I won’t be able to blog much while I’m working for the government.

      • Congratulations. Although I will miss your blog posts, your appointment to the FTC should mean great things for digital privacy.

  4. C. Scott Ananian says

    This is really great news for our country, and for the FTC. Congratulations! (And good luck!)

  5. Congratulations Ed! Just remember, when entering a pit of snakes it’s best to have the keen senses and quick movement of a mongoose!

  6. This is fantastic news. We have been needing more people like this in government for a long time and this is a good start.

    I would like to see Dr. Felten explain to the politicians that restricting sex offenders from social networks does not lower sex crimes and is rapidly becoming a first amendment and interstate commerce issue.

    While I am not a sex offender, I have a friend who is and have researched the data and came to the conclusion that a misguided public has pressured politicians to restrict rights of sex offender to the point that it violates one of the prime rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as well as the first amendment right to free speech by prohibiting sex offender from participating in sites such as Facebook and Myspace.

    These social networks were once fringe sites that had few legitimate or official uses, but the number of companies and organizations that are using these networks to keep in touch with their customers and whatnot are exploding and if something is not done, then people who committed crimes decades ago are going be be severely limited in how they can participate in the digital age.

    This may not be a huge concern for many people, but then this is a republic which was designed not to bend to democratic rule, but to protect the rights of the few against the will of the many. It has failed when it comes to sex offenders by relying on outdated data that reached incorrect conclusions and ignoring more mature studies which show what really does lower the incidents of sex offenses.

  7. Timothy Crone says

    This is very very good news. We will all benefit greatly from this development. Congratulations Professor Felton, and thanks for your service.

  8. Seth Finkelstein says

    Congratulations on entering the sausage factory. Let us know how it is made.

  9. You’re truly the man for the job. Technology policy across the many domains of government is in dire need of your insight and your well-balanced views on security, freedom, corporate interests, and personal interests. Too much of the government is swayed by special interests who desire the profits and/or power that government regulation can unwittingly supply, and I’m confident that your advice can help keep the personal liberties of all Americans alive in the face of these special interests… just as long as they choose to listen to you.

    Best of luck!

  10. Jon Wright says

    Well done on your new role. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts here. Long may they continue. All the very best for the future.

  11. It comes as no surprise that you earned this position.

    The FTC recognizing your qualifications instead of choosing someone more amenable to the machine, however, is startling to say the least.

    Thank you for your service, and your willingness to face the inside of the sausage factory.

  12. I hope you enjoy your new role.

    I think this deserves a reference to the DC body-snatchers 🙂

  13. Crosbie Fitch says

    The keenest threats are either liquidated or assimilated.

    Well done for evading the former, but can you resist the latter?

  14. Khürt Williams says

    I’m happy that an intelligent and knowledgeable person will be technology strategy at the FTC.

  15. Dave Methvin says

    It will be great to have you at the FTC providing a technology-savvy point of view. I’m sure policy creation will still resemble making sausage, but perhaps you can throw a few savory bits into the grinder for us.