The nation’s first state data privacy agency has selected a former chief technologist at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to serve as its executive director.
The California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA) announced Monday the appointment of Ashkan Soltani to the position. Soltani was among the architects of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which the CPPA will enforce until the enhanced California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) takes effect Jan. 1, 2023.
Soltani will oversee enforcement and rulemaking of the privacy laws in addition to building and leading agency staff. His first day on the job was Monday.
“California is leading the way when it comes to privacy rights and I’m honored to be able to serve its residents,” Soltani said in a news release. “I am eager to get to work to help build the agency’s team and begin doing the work required by CCPA and the CPRA.”
The CPPA was created by voters in 2020 as part of the CPRA, which adds several rights for consumers to protect their personal data from being sold or shared by businesses on top of the protections currently offered by 2018’s CCPA. The CPRA rulemaking process began last month when the CPPA issued an invitation to comment on new and undecided issues not already covered by the existing privacy law. Areas where feedback is being sought include cybersecurity audits, automated decision-making, right to delete, and more.
California’s fiscal year 2021 state budget contains about $10 million per year to fund the CPPA, which will allow it to hire between 46-50 employees. The agency’s board took form in March, with selecting an executive director among its initial priorities.
Soltani is a distinguished fellow at Georgetown University Law School at both the Institute for Technology Law and Policy and the Center on Privacy and Technology. He previously served as a senior adviser to the U.S. chief technology officer under the Obama administration and helped create the Office of Technology Research and Investigation in his role at the FTC.
“We are thrilled to have Ashkan join the California Privacy Protection Agency,” said CPPA Board Chair Jennifer Urban in the release. “His background in technology and privacy and his work on both the CCPA and the CPRA give him a thorough understanding of California privacy law and will stand him in good stead as he leads agency staff and helps the agency fulfill its privacy protection mandate.”