President Joe Biden’s nominee to fill the empty seat on the Federal Trade Commission has a history of opposing immigration authorities’ use of data to enforce the law.
Alvaro Bedoya is a Georgetown Law Professor and Privacy Advocate who will be nominated to his committee hearing Wednesday, is a staunch proponent of limiting the ability of immigration agencies such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to collect and use data to facilitate deportations of illegal immigrants. Bedoya has criticized private companies that provide immigration agencies with citizens’ data.
“It is time to call [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] what it is: An out-of-control domestic surveillance agency that peers into all our lives,” Bedoya tweeted in February, calling for stronger privacy laws to “rein in data brokers.”
While federal data privacy legislation is not yet gaining traction in Congress so far, Democrats have looked to Federal Trade Commission to start a privacy rulemaking process based on existing legislation.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), was the top Senate Democratic writer. letter to Lina Khan, the Federal Trade Commission chair, urging use of the agency strengthen data privacy protections. The Build Back Back Better Act allocates $500 million for a new “privacy bureau” within the Federal Trade Commission tasked with implementing and enforcing data protections.
If confirmed, Bedoya is expected to oversee the enforcement privacy laws and the creation of new data security measures by the Federal Trade Commission. considering. This position would allow Bedoya to have a great deal of control over how data companies collect, share, and use information.
In a column for Slate written in September 2020, Bedoya targeted data analytics company Palantir and its relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a reason for new legal protections on data privacy.
Palantir’s “leadership has decided that the cost of its work for [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] is de minimis, that in the eyes of its clients and the investing public it simply does not matter,” Bedoya wrote. “As a Latino and an immigrant, I worry that on this point they will be right.”
Bedoya pointed to the fact that Palantir’s technology assists Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in accessing different databases, building profiles, visualizing data and connecting data sources as an example of a practice harming illegal immigrants.
“Much of my work focuses on how surveillance affects immigrants and people of color,” Bedoya wrote. “Yet, even for me, it is hard to see the technology behind [Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s] brutality.”
Bedoya was previously advocated for enlarging and empowering the Federal Trade Commission as a tool to combat data collection and consumer surveillance, pointing to the harms caused by “companies that track us to identify our weaknesses.”
“Surveillance isn’t a question of cookies on browsers. It’s a question of life or death,” Bedoya said in a call-to-action video with OpenMic. “It’s a question of, can you explore your sexuality in peace and without other people looking over your shoulder? It’s a question of whether you can stay in this country if you’re undocumented.”
Bedoya also opposed the collaboration of state agencies and local law enforcement agencies with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, calling on such authorities to refuse to share data with the agency.
If confirmed, Bedoya would give the Democrats a 3-1 majority in the Federal Trade Commission. The Daily Caller News Foundation reached Bedoya for comment but he declined.
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