EFF is proud to announce that independent researcher and technologist Ashkan Soltani has joined our advisory board, where he will share his expertise in privacy and security. Ashkan is a long-time EFF friend and collaborator whose research has informed our efforts to protect users from NSA backdoors, shine a light on third-party tracking, and hold the government accountable for unconstitutional mass surveillance.
Ashkan is a career advocate for user rights in the digital world, and his commitment to protecting consumer privacy will be vital to the work we do at EFF. Ashkan is one of the architects of the California Consumer Privacy Act, the nation’s strongest digital privacy law protecting private information and providing users more control over their data. His work looking under the hood of tracking technology and practices used by companies to collect user data—years before the Cambridge Analytica scandal—has been critical to the public’s understanding of how personal data is being mined and monetized.
Ashkan’s research was the basis for the Wall Street Journal’s award-winning series “What They Know,” a ground-breaking report on tracking technologies and how they work. He also co-authored a Washington Post series on NSA spying programs that was awarded a 2014 Pulitzer Prize. Ashkan was one of the first staff technologists at the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, where he helped lead investigations of Google, Twitter, and Facebook for misleading user privacy practices. Later, he was appointed Chief Technologist at the FTC, advising on technology policy and helping create a new Office of Technology Research and Investigation.
In 2016 Ashkan was recruited by the White House to serve as Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, consulting on consumer privacy and the ethics of big data. The engagement ended after the White House denied Ashkan a security clearance, which many in the tech community speculated was a result of his work on the NSA spying series at the Washington Post.
In 2018 Ashkan became an expert witness in EFF’s landmark Jewel v. NSA lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of NSA mass surveillance. In an affidavit, he testified that the communications of EFF’s plaintiffs were likely subjected to collection as part of NSA’s surveillance network.
We’re thrilled to have Ashkan on our advisory board.