The US Federal Trade Commission announced last week the appointment of Ashkan Soltani as the FTC’s chief technologist starting November, where he would advise on technology and policy issues for the same agency where he had previously served as a technical expert and staff technologist.
But what made his appointment stands out was other aspects of his resume. Soltani is a renowned and outspoken security researcher and has served as a technical expert for several state attorney general. Most notably, he was recently involved in investigative journalism, as a media consultant at the Washington Post helping Barton Gellman and other reporters on the technical and security aspects of the Snowden documents – and sharing their 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service – plus other spells at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
His latest appointment has upset NSA top guns, drawing criticisms from former NSA director Michael Hayden (and CIA director from 2006 to 2009):
“I’m not trying to demonize this fella, but he’s been working through criminally exposed documents and making decisions about making those documents public.”
and former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker:
“I don’t think anyone who justified or exploited Snowden’s breach of confidentiality obligations should be trusted to serve in government.”
In the same report on these reactions, there’s an interesting reader’s comment:
“Hayden and Baker seem to think they took a different oath: to protect the American people from “terrorists” at all costs. And maybe to profit from investing in surveillance companies“? See my earlier posts on Keith Alexander’s business ventures during and after his NSA tenure.