On Wednesday, the Senate voted to confirm privacy expert Alvaro Bedoya to the Federal Trade Commission. The confirmation secured a Democratic majority at the agency tasked by the Biden administration to investigate major tech companies such as Facebook and Google over possible data privacy and competition violations.
Vice President Kamala Harris voted to break a 50-50 tie on the Senate floor to complete Bedoya’s confirmation.
Bedoya will replace former Commissioner Rohit Chopra who left the FTC last year to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Before his confirmation, Bedoya was a law professor at Georgetown with a focus on privacy law, and founded the university’s Center on Privacy and Technology in 2014. In his academic career, Bedoya explored the disproportionate effects of surveillance on minority groups, particularly with regard to facial recognition technology.
Bedoya was first nominated to the FTC last September, but his confirmation was blocked by the Republican opposition to his nomination. After several canceled and rescheduled committee hearings and votes last year, the Senate Commerce Committee voted on March 14-14, need a movement to discharge by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to bring a final vote.
in April, axios reported that the US Chamber of Commerce had urged lawmakers to delay Bedoya’s confirmation
Alvaro’s knowledge, experience and energy will be a great asset to the FTC as we continue our critical work. I am delighted to be working with him, along with our other commissioners, once his nomination is finalized by President Biden.
— Lina Khan (@linakhanFTC) May 11, 2022
On Tuesday, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) continued to pressure lawmakers to oppose Bedoya’s confirmation and urged the White House to withdraw his nomination. In a speech on Tuesday, McConnell said, “He’s essentially a foolish choice.” He continued: “I would urge my colleagues on both sides to stop this terrible nomination so that the president can reconsider and send us a suitable person.”
Bedoya’s confirmation comes as the FTC has tightened its oversight of the tech industry, led by chairman Lina Khan. The commission had previously pledged to take on illegal “right to repair” restrictions, and is reportedly investigating Meta’s VR division for possible antitrust violations.
In a statement on Wednesday, Khan said, “Alvaro’s knowledge, experience and energy will be a great asset to the FTC as we continue our critical work.”
Updated 11/05/22 at 3:39 PM ET: Includes statement from FTC Chairman Lina Khan.