FTC appoints privacy advocate as adviser

Law professor Paul Ohm has been a frequent critic of online privacy practices

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has hired Paul Ohm, a privacy advocate and critic of current online privacy practices, as a senior privacy adviser for consumer protection and competition issues affecting the Internet and mobile services.

Ohm, a University of Colorado Law School professor, will take a leave of absence from the school to serve in the FTC's Office of Policy Planning. The office focuses on long-range competition and consumer-protection policy efforts, and it advises FTC staff on cases raising complex policy and legal issues.

"Paul's keen insights on how the law applies to technology and privacy issues will be invaluable to the FTC's work in these areas," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. "We have been fortunate in bringing in a series of top-notch experts to advise us on cutting-edge issues and enhance our in-house expertise."

Ohm focuses on information privacy, computer crime law, intellectual property and criminal procedure, with much of his work looking at ways evolving technology disrupts individual privacy. He is the author of several articles on online privacy, including the 2010 article, "Broken Promises of Privacy: Responding to the Surprising Failure of Anonymization."

Ohm, in a statement, called the FTC the "focal point for so many of the important information privacy debates taking place today."

The FTC, in recent years, has obtained privacy settlements with Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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