Privacy and Data Protection


Christopher Olsen is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where his practice focuses on privacy, cybersecurity, and data security issues.

The former deputy director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP) at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Chris is a highly regarded privacy and data security expert. As deputy director of the BCP, Chris directed the international work of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, which included the development and implementation of cross-border privacy rules for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies, and enforcement of the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework. He also oversaw the Division of Enforcement, which monitors compliance with consumer protection orders and develops and enforces a variety of consumer protection rules, and the Division of Financial Practices, which targets deception and unfairness in the provision of financial services. In addition, Chris acted as the agency's co-lead negotiator in discussions with the European Commission regarding improvements to and renewal of the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework, and was the lead coordinator with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on telecom issues, including coordination on major enforcement actions involving alleged cramming and deceptive advertising of unlimited mobile data plans.

Prior to joining the bureau director's office, Chris was the assistant director of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection at the FTC. In this role, he managed a number of significant privacy and security enforcement actions, as well as several of the most important privacy initiatives in recent FTC history, including a seminal 2012 FTC report on consumer privacy that formulated important recommendations for businesses.

Previously, Chris was special counsel to the Telecommunications Consumers Division at the FCC, where he was part of the management team that was responsible for the division's privacy initiatives. Before serving as special counsel, he was the deputy chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, where he directed several of the most significant enforcement matters in the commission's history, including the agency's first net neutrality order; its first actions enforcing the National Do-Not-Call requirements; and multimillion-dollar cases involving local competition and consumer protection rules. Chris first joined the FCC as a staff attorney before serving as the assistant division chief of the Market Disputes Resolution Division, which managed the adjudication and mediation of formal complaints alleging violations of the Communications Act.

Prior to joining the FCC, Chris was a partner at Howrey Simon Arnold & White, LLP, where he managed a variety of litigation matters, including intellectual property, antitrust, contract, and environmental insurance coverage cases.

  • Successfully represented major online commerce provider in FTC investigation. Case closed with no enforcement action.
  • Successfully represented electronic products manufacturer in FTC privacy investigation. Case closed with no enforcement action.
  • Successfully represented fitness device manufacturer in FTC investigation. Retained as counsel after FTC informed company it was proceeding with a complaint alleging privacy and security violations; convinced the agency to close the case with no enforcement action.
  • Successfully represented Internet security company in FTC data security investigation. Case closed with no enforcement action.
  • Successfully represented media company in FTC advertising investigation. Case closed with no enforcement action.
  • Successfully represented children's service in FTC COPPA investigation. Case closed with no enforcement action.
  • Successfully represented ad tech company in FTC inquiry. Matter closed without formal investigation.
  • Successfully represented communications company in FTC FCRA investigation. Case closed with no enforcement action.
  • Successfully represented electronic products manufacturer in FTC advertising investigation. Case closed with no enforcement action.
  • Currently representing electronic products manufacturer in state AG data security investigation.
  • Currently representing developer of children's products in FTC COPPA investigation.
  • Currently representing major media company in FTC COPPA investigation.
  • J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 1989
  • A.B., English modified by Government, Dartmouth College, 1986
    Cum Laude
  • Named as a "Top Lawyer" in the cybersecurity category by Washingtonian magazine in December 2017
  • Recipient, Award for Excellence in Supervision from the Federal Trade Commission for "an exceptional ability to guide, empower, and motivate staff . . . to protect consumer privacy through groundbreaking cases and innovative policy efforts" (September 2012)
  • Recipient, Mary Gardiner Jones Award from the Federal Trade Commission for "active volunteer efforts that have benefited the FTC community, the employee's community or state, or the nation" (October 2010)
  • Recipient, Silver Award from the Federal Communications Commission for "sustained exceptional accomplishments related to the mission and objectives of the Commission" (October 2006)
  • Speaker, "So You Just Got a CID: What's Next?" IAPP Practical Privacy Series, December 2016
  • Speaker, "Privacy, Encryption, and Consumer Rights: A New Boardroom Challenge," Stanford Directors' College, June 2016
  • Speaker, "History of Self-Regulatory Enforcement," Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program's Consumer Privacy and Digital Advertising Innovation Conference, May 2016
  • Keynote Speaker, Future of Privacy Forum Advisory Board Meeting, April 2015
  • Co-moderator, "Privacy Implications Associated with Broadband Internet Access Services," Federal Communications Commission Workshop on Broadband Consumer Privacy, Washington, D.C., April 2015
  • "Data, Lending, and Civil Rights," Georgetown Center on Privacy and Technology Symposium, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., April 2015
  • Panelist, "Big Data: Privacy and Data Security Issues for Media and Communications Companies," FCBA and ABA Symposium, Washington, D.C., March 2015
  • Panelist, "Raising the Bar for Privacy and Data Security: The Role of Self-Regulation in the New Frontier," IAPP Global Privacy Summit, Washington, D.C., March 2015
  • Panelist, "An Exposé on How the Internet of Things Impacts Individual Industries," International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization Annual Meeting, Orlando, Florida, February 2015
  • "Brand New Web: Privacy and Security Implications of Connected Consumer Devices and the 'Internet of Things,'" FCBA Privacy and Data Security Committee, February 2015
  • Bar of the District of Columbia

Contact Information

1700 K Street NW
Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20006
Phone | 202-973-8803

Email | Chris

Areas of Expertise

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