Senate confirms NTIA head, but other cybersecurity nominations still on hold

The Senate confirmed Alan Davidson, President Joe Biden’s nomination to lead the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Tuesday, but nominees for other major cybersecurity-related roles in the federal government remain in a holding pattern. 

The Senate voted 60-31 to approve Davidson’s nomination as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, his official title while leading the NTIA—an agency within the Commerce Department set to manage the distribution of more than $48 billion of infrastructure funding for broadband development. 

However, Alvaro Bedoya and Gigi Sohn are still awaiting votes on their respective nominations to the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission—leaving leadership at two other agencies key government privacy and information security efforts in partisan stalemates. 

Davidson is a veteran of the federal technology scene who previously worked at the Commerce Department and at Google, as well as a number of prominent technology policy nonprofits, including most recently with the Mozilla Foundation.

Bedoya and Sohn also have extensive relevant professional experience, but have had their nominations held up along largely partisan lines. All three of the nominees had committee hearings late last year. 

In a statement released Monday, consumer advocacy group Fight for the Future called for Bedoya and Sohn’s nominations to move forward, citing need for action on issues including addressing “privacy violations and algorithmic discrimination” in the technology sector by the agencies. 

The group also linked opposition corporate interests that oppose more regulation in the telecommunications and technology industries. 

“Industry insiders have openly admitted that they are pushing for these delays because it benefits their bottom line, at the expense of the public,” the group said. 

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Andrea Peterson

Andrea Peterson (they/them) is a longtime cybersecurity journalist who cut their teeth covering technology policy at ThinkProgress (RIP) and The Washington Post before doing deep-dive public records investigations at the Project on Government Oversight and American Oversight.