The launch of the Federal Trade Commission’s tech-focused office comes as federal regulators have ramped up investigations into the practices of large technology companies.
The Federal Trade Commission announced on Friday that it has launched a new Office of Technology to help the agency keep pace with the rapidly evolving sector and provide FTC staff and commissioners with the technological proficiency needed to guide their work.
In a statement, FTC Chair Lina Khan said the office “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."
The agency said the new office will provide technological expertise to FTC staff and commissioners, assist the agency with its law enforcement investigations and “highlight market trends and emerging technologies that impact the FTC’s work.”
This work will include engaging with the public and other stakeholders through conferences and workshops, as well as assisting with the agency’s policy and research initiatives. The office’s new webpage notes that it is currently looking to hire “technologists in residence” to assist with its work.
The Office of Technology—which the FTC said “will have dedicated staff and resources”—will be led by Stephanie Nguyen, the agency’s chief technology officer.
“I’m honored to lead the FTC’s Office of Technology at this vital time to strengthen the agency’s technical expertise and meet the quickly evolving challenges of the digital economy,” Nguyen said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with the agency’s talented staff and building our team of technologists.”
The FTC voted 4-0 to approve the creation of the new office on Thursday.
The office’s launch comes as the FTC and other federal regulators in recent years have increased their scrutiny of large technology companies. The agency has sued to block Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, and earlier this month it fined drug discount app GoodRX $1.5 million for sharing users’ sensitive health data with Google and Meta.
In a Washington Post article published on Friday, however, Nguyen said the new office will assist with agency investigations in sectors all across the economy, rather than just focusing on the tech industry.
The rollout of the office also comes after Republican Commissioner Christine Wilson announced in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Feb. 14 that she “will soon resign as an FTC commissioner” in response to what she called Chair Khan’s “abuses of government power.”