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Davidson to NTIA?

Biden Taps Bedoya for FTC; NTIA Nominee May Come Soon

President Joe Biden is expected to swiftly follow up his Monday nomination of Alvaro Bedoya as an FTC commissioner by announcing his pick of Mozilla Foundation Senior Adviser Alan Davidson for NTIA administrator (see 2108020061), Democratic Capitol Hill aides and telecom industry lobbyists told us. Bedoya is expected to replace Commissioner Rohit Chopra as the third FTC Democrat. Chopra awaits Senate confirmation to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. FTC Chair Lina Khan, consumer advocates and USTelecom welcomed the pick. See also our news bulletin here.

Bedoya is founding director of Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology. He previously worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee as chief counsel for the Privacy Subcommittee. His work includes projects on face-scanning technology, biometrics and mobile location privacy. He declined comment earlier Monday.

His “expertise on surveillance and data security and his longstanding commitment to public service would be enormously valuable to the Commission as we work to meet this moment of tremendous need and opportunity,” Khan said. Bedoya has been a “perceptive, energetic champion for the privacy of everyone who uses or is impacted by technology, especially the most vulnerable in our society,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in a statement, calling for “swift” confirmation.

USTelecom looks forward to working with Bedoya on “priorities at the top of the FTC’s consumer protection agenda, specifically advancing a national privacy framework that respects and protects consumers across the entire internet ecosystem.” The organization also listed illegal robocalls.

Public Citizen Digital Rights Advocate Emily Peterson-Cassin said Bedoya's “expertise on the effect of data extraction on marginalized communities will help the FTC return human privacy and dignity to its rightful place in our surveillance economy.” His research “revealed how Big Data is used to facilitate oppressive surveillance and racial discrimination against the most vulnerable,” said Public Knowledge Competition Policy Director Charlotte Slaiman. Open Markets Institute Executive Director Barry Lynn noted Bedoya's experience helping to develop net neutrality rules in 2015.

Bedoya will push “for smart and bold policies at this reinvigorated agency and ensure that the impacts and needs of immigrants and communities of color are a priority,” said Free Press CEO Craig Aaron. He has an “understanding of how surveillance by powerful tech corporations is harming communities, particularly communities of color,” said the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

The White House may announce its nomination of Davidson as soon as Tuesday, Hill aides and lobbyists said. He was previously Mozilla vice president-global policy, Commerce Department digital economy director 2015-17, and Google's first U.S. public policy director. The vetting process on Davidson progressed significantly during the recent congressional recess, in contrast to continued limbo in its work to name a permanent chair and third Democratic commissioner to the FCC, lobbyists said. Some officials hope the Bedoya nomination means the Biden administration will soon also announce its FCC picks. The White House didn’t comment.

The administration may move forward on Davidson now rather than waiting until it finalizes its FCC nominees because NTIA is poised to administer most of the $65 billion in broadband money included in the Senate-passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (HR-3684), lobbyists told us. The Senate-passed measure awaits House consideration, with a vote expected by Sept. 27 (see 2108100062).