Former FTC Chief Technologist Ashkan Soltani Joins Georgetown Law as a Distinguished Fellow

October 10, 2019

WASHINGTON – Technologist Ashkan Soltani is joining Georgetown Law as a distinguished fellow of the law center’s Institute for Technology Law & Policy and of its Center on Privacy & Technology.

Formerly chief technologist of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Soltani specializes in privacy, security, and behavioral economics. His work draws attention to privacy problems online, demystifies technology for the non-technically inclined, and provides data-driven insights to help inform policy.

At the FTC, Soltani advised the Commission on technology-related policy and helped to create its Office of Technology Research and Investigation (OTech). He previously served as one of the FTC’s first staff technologists in the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, and as a Senior Advisor to the Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Soltani was recognized as part of the 2014 Pulitzer winning team for his contributions to The Washington Post’s coverage of NSA surveillance in the wake of the Snowden revelations. He was also the primary technical adviser on The Wall Street Journal’s investigative series “What They Know”, which was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.

Recently, Soltani was a significant contributor to the California Consumer Privacy Act, sweeping privacy legislation that passed in California in 2018 and will enter into force in 2020.

As a Distinguished Fellow of the Tech Institute and the Privacy Center, Soltani will participate in Institute and Center events, collaborate on research projects, engage with faculty, fellows and students, and contribute to Georgetown’s thought leadership at the intersection of technology, law and public policy.

Soltani joins a growing number of tech policy experts at Georgetown Law, which has the leading academic program in the country for technology law and policy, with over 70 courses and 19 full-time faculty teaching in the cluster. Georgetown’s faculty members teaching on privacy and security-related issues include David Vladeck, former head of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, and noted scholars Matt Blaze, Anupam Chander, Julie Cohen, Laura Donohue, and Paul Ohm, among others. At the Institute, Soltani joins Distinguished Fellows Terrell McSweeny, a former FTC Commissioner, and Gigi Sohn, a leading public interest communications lawyer who founded the nonprofit Public Knowledge and served as a senior counselor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Georgetown’s Institute for Tech Law & Policy provides a central hub for discussions at the intersection of technology, law and public policy. It is dedicated to training the next generation of lawyers and lawmakers with a deep understanding of technology and policy, and to providing a central forum for policymakers, academics, advocates, and technologists to study and discuss the most pressing issues in technology law today. Among other programming, the Institute offers public convenings and workshops; training for Congressional staff on key tech policy issues; and original research on topics including platform governance, algorithmic fairness, promoting an open internet, privacy-protecting technologies, and the use of technology as a tool to address problems in the justice system.

The Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law is a think tank focused on privacy and surveillance law and policy—and the communities they affect. The Center studies the impact of government surveillance and commercial data practices on vulnerable communities; provides intellectual and legal foundations for reforms to our nation’s consumer privacy laws; and offers technology-intensive courses that prepare students to be leaders in privacy practice, policymaking and advocacy.

Follow the Institute for Technology Law & Policy on Twitter at @gtowntechlaw, the Center on Privacy & Technology at @GeorgetownCPT and Ashkan Soltani at @ashk4n.