The Senate confirmed Alvaro Bedoya on Wednesday as a member of the Federal Trade Commission, allowing Democrats to regain a majority at the agency and pursue their ambitious technology and antitrust agenda.
Bedoya, a Georgetown University law professor and prominent privacy advocate, will give Democrats a 3-2 advantage during commission votes related to the regulation of Big Tech companies and on questions related to antitrust, data privacy, and security.
Bedoya could also play an important role in pushing the FTC to investigate oil and gas companies, which Democrats say are unfairly gouging consumers with high gas prices.
The Senate voted 50-50 along partisan lines, with Democrats using Vice President Kamala Harris as a tiebreaker.
Republicans oppose Bedoya’s nomination because he has publicly criticized the police and accuse him of being a left-wing activist.
Bedoya, who was first nominated almost nine months ago, joins the agency at a time of bipartisan antipathy toward Big Tech companies such as Facebook and Google because of their data-gathering practices and treatment of users’ privacy.
“I’ve tried to think about privacy not in terms of data but in terms of people — real people suffering real harm. And I’ve tried to work across the aisle to help them,” Bedoya said during his Senate confirmation hearing last year.
Liberals say the delay in confirming Bedoya hurt the Biden administration’s agenda while temporarily allowing Big Tech companies off the hook for bad behavior because the FTC has been gridlocked.
Bedoya, who founded the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown, has been at the forefront of research into how facial recognition technology and other surveillance tools have been used by the government and technology companies to discriminate against immigrants and minorities.
He previously worked as a staffer for Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on privacy, technology, and the law.