FTC Sets Up New Emerging Tech Watchdog Office

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The Federal Trade Commission is expanding a special unit dedicated to fraud detection and consumer protection: The Office of Technology Research and Investigation will not only take to task app developers targeting kids and the like, but also examine the risks and practices of new and emerging technologies.

In a news release, Ashkan Soltani, the FTC's chief technologist, explained the new office's mission: "The OTRI is the successor to the [Mobile Technology Unit], and will build upon their great work by tackling an even broader array of investigative research on technology issues involving all facets of the FTC’s consumer protection mission, including privacy, data security, connected cars, smart homes, algorithmic transparency, emerging payment methods, big data, and the Internet of Things."

The OTRI will be the group that takes companies to task when webcams are left vulnerable to hackers, or if health information leaks out of your fitness band. It will also perform research projects on, for instance, the privacy policies of such services, and investigate allegations of things like price-fixing and online scams. Further news on the new office will be found at the commission's Tech@FTC blog.



—Devin Coldewey