Booting up a new research office at the FTC

Calling all Technologists! The FTC has job opportunities available in its newly formed Office of Technology Research and Investigation (OTRI), an office designed to expand the FTC’s capacity to protect consumers in an age of rapid technological innovation. 

One hundred years ago the FTC opened its doors for business. Then “cutting edge” technologies like movies and radio were dramatically reshaping U.S. commerce and the FTC was there protecting consumers. The FTC has always been at the forefront of consumer protection issues centered around the “new” technology of the era.

Then a few years ago, when smart phones began to become ubiquitous, the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection created a Mobile Technology Unit (MTU) – a small group of staff members charged with highlighting consumer protection challenges posed by mobile technologies and developing tools and techniques to protect consumers engaged in mobile commerce, and assisting staff with mobile investigations. The MTU conducts independent research related to mobile technologies, including the reports on mobile apps for kids and mobile shopping.

The OTRI is the successor to the MTU, 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. We believe OTRI will be an instrumental source for research and information on technology’s impact on consumers. I, as well as future Chief Technologists, will work closely with OTRI on these various projects.

As part of this expanded effort, I’m happy to announce a number of new positions which we hope will draw fresh academic talent and expertise to OTRI (quick, application deadline for this round is April 3):

  • First, we’re creating a Technology Policy Research Fellowship, which is a 2-year term appointment available to recent graduates with that rare education in both technology and policy. The fellow will provide technical expertise to FTC attorneys and investigators, identify and design relevant research projects in the area of consumer technology, and ultimately develop new methods of consumer protection research.
  • Second, we’re creating a full-time Research Coordinator position to oversee OTRI’s technology research projects, including project design and execution. The Coordinator also will help translate the findings into clear, actionable guidance to inform policy.
  • The FTC will also continue its Technology Research Internship Program this summer, and expand it into semester-long externships throughout the school year. The summer posting is linked above and additional information regarding the year-round externships will be available on the upcoming OTRI webpage. You can also email techinternships@ftc.gov.

Finally, this blog itself will also undergo some changes. While traditionally this blog has had only one author – namely, the FTC’s Chief Technologist – the creation of this new office presents a great opportunity to expand Tech@FTC to include the broader technical community within the Commission. Soon, invited FTC staff, including members of OTRI will guest blog about technical research findings and technology related issues affecting consumers.

Don’t worry, it’ll still be geeky.

The author’s views are his or her own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commission or any Commissioner.

Comments

It's good see the government hiring that's great for the economy. I have a small problem with your first bullet point because it states "recent graduates". I love your site and there are a lot of older people who need assistance also. People who were laid off, dii everything they could to survive, can't find a job because not their credit is bad ; and they are on the verge of losing everything they have worked hard for, but this is no help. Its just my opinion and I love this site, you all do a fantastic job. This was just a thought to an agency I love and respect.

Shekesmom good point. It is really unnecessarily discriminatory to advertise positions in this manner. It limits the sort of talent the federal government is able to recruit. There are a lot of people who know a lot more about these issues than 'recent graduates' and have not only more relevant knowledge, but also an equally 'fresh perspective'--especially given the fact these issues are only just now unfolding. It would be good to see a more level playing field in federal talent recruitment.

Looking forward to hearing more about the new Tech Research initiatives!

Gary Warner
UAB Computer Forensics

Pages