NTIA's Verdi Joins Future of Privacy Forum

Headed NTIA's stakeholder voluntary privacy efforts

John Verdi has joined the Future of Privacy Forum as VP of policy.

Verdi is the former director of privacy initiative at the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, the President's chief telecom policy advisor.

Verdi will head up the forum's efforts to foster responsible privacy practices.

Verdi has been a familiar figure at NTIA, leading workshops on various issues as the that agency has worked with stakeholders to come up with voluntary codes of conduct for various forms of data collection—drones, facial recognition, apps—as the Administration tries to put some meat on the bones of its privacy Bill of Rights.

Privacy is a multifront issue in D.C., where the FCC is tackling broadband privacy, the Federal Trade Commission is looking at big data privacy practices, the FAA is looking at drones, Google is being eyed for its info collection practices, and cybersecurity and national security vs. consumer privacy are occupying serious Capitol Hill brainpower.

“John’s unique blend of diplomacy and intellect has helped him navigate among stakeholders with a range of privacy viewpoints during his time at Commerce,” said FPF CEO Jules Polonetsky. “We look forward to his leadership advancing the FPF agenda on big data, wearables, connected cars, smart cities and ethics, among other privacy related matters.”

"John Verdi should feel very at home working for a corporate funded entity," said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, one of the civil society stakeholders that was critical of earlier efforts on apps and facial recognition and pulled out of the drone privacy stakeholder process. While Chester has been a strong voice for government privacy initiative, he has been an equally strong critic of what he sees as the government's too-corporate friendly multistakeholder process.

"I think it’s a great fit," said Linda Sherry, director, national priorities, for Consumer Action. "Verdi’s background as a lawyer and programmer, not to mention the trials and tribulations of the NTIA privacy multistakeholder process, make him a good choice to work at FPF, which requires knowledge not just of consumer privacy, but also the ability to work with industry in a constructive way."

An NTIA spokesperson said telecommunications policy analyst Travis Hall will take over Verdi in the stakeholder voluntary privacy guidelines process--Verdi exited last Friday (May 6). "Travis has been working closely with John on both the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) [drones] and facial recognition processes to ensure that there is a smooth, seamless transition," NTIA press secretary Juliana Gruenwald told Multichannel News/B&C. "While we will miss John’s leadership in helping to guide our multistakeholder processes, his departure will have no effect on either process. The next meeting of our UAS process is scheduled for May 18. We hope to schedule the next facial recognition meeting soon."