FTC Launches New Office To Keep Pace With Big Tech

The US Federal Trade Commission on Friday launched a new Office of Technology to strengthen its ability to “fully grasp” rapidly changing technologies in the digital marketplace and support its policy and law enforcement efforts. 

“The Office of Technology will boost the FTC’s expertise to help the agency achieve its mission of protecting consumers and promoting competition,” the agency said in a release.

The office plans to support FTC investigations into business practices and their associated technologies; provide technological expertise on policy and research initiatives; and highlight market trends that have an impact on its work. 

The new office will be led by Chief Technology Officer Stephanie Nguyen. Though the focus of the office is technology, Nguyen told The Washington Post it’ll also look at broader sectors of the economy. 

The new office reflects the FTC’s efforts in recent years to take on large tech firms, such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. Earlier this month, the FTC fined GoodRX $1.5 million over allegations that the digital health company shared users’ data with companies like Facebook and Google without the users’ consent (an assertion the company pushed back at). The FTC has also challenged recent large-scale tech acquisitions, like Microsoft’s Activision deal, which the commission contends could harm competition.

“For more than a century, the FTC has worked to keep pace with new markets and ever-changing technologies by building internal expertise,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said in the release. “Our office of technology is a natural next step in ensuring we have the in-house skills needed to fully grasp evolving technologies and market trends as we continue to tackle unlawful business practices and protect Americans.”

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Nina Raemont