George McDonald will monitor tech companies and help the bureau use technology to gather more information on firms it suspects of engaging in anti-competitive behaviour. “The appointment of a Chief Digital Enforcement Officer is part of the Bureau’s ongoing efforts to keep pace with today’s rapidly changing digital economy,” said Kelly Clarke, senior speechwriter at the bureau. “McDonald will also develop policies and advise the Bureau on effective digital enforcement, and evaluate emerging technologies for potential adoption by the Bureau.” He will serve for up to two years, after which the bureau will decide whether to make the digital enforcement position permanent. McDonald spent the past nine years at IBM working on artificial intelligence and analytics. He will report directly to the competition commissioner. (The Logic)
Talking point: McDonald has frequently raised concerns about how technology impacts privacy and touted the benefits of ethical AI. “Facebook is a perfect example of a large organization failing to put basic data governance, data ownership and executive accountability in place,” he wrote on LinkedIn, after news broke that the social media giant had stored hundreds of millions of passwords in plain text. When IBM endorsed the EU’s ethics guidelines on trustworthy AI in April, McDonald highlighted that his firm was an outlier among large tech companies. “I am shocked at the absence of support from the big players. These are guidelines and not legally binding so there shouldn’t be much controversy,” he wrote. McDonald’s appointment is the latest sign of the bureau’s enhanced focus on digital enforcement. In June, the bureau moved to force Thoma Bravo, a private equity firm, to sell one of its software products over antitrust concerns. The same month, Anthony Durocher, deputy commissioner of monopolistic practices, gave a Toronto speech detailing a new approach focused on encouraging data portability.