In another example of the expanding enforcement focus of this Commission, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently hired privacy and digital security expert Jonathan Mayer as the Chief Technologist in the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau.
According to news reports, Mayer, a computer scientist and lawyer, is known for his consumer-oriented privacy advocacy and work with “do-not-track” privacy mechanisms. Perhaps most notably, Mayer is credited with discovering and reporting alleged tracking by Google of usage in Apple’s Safari browser that allowed tracking of users from site to site. Recently, Mayer has focused on the alleged vulnerability of “supercookies” on Verizon phones that could be accessed by third parties (Verizon denied this assertion).
The FCC’s hiring of Mayer highlights its move to more aggressive review of privacy practices by carriers and communications entities of a wide variety of types. Mayer’s presence in the Enforcement Bureau portends more activity in consumer-oriented cases relating to data protection and data breaches, among other things. Mayer’s hiring also comes on the heels of the FCC and FTC’s Consumer Protection Memorandum of Understanding where the two agencies have committed to working together on consumer privacy and data security issues.