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Helen Goff Foster

Helen Foster, CIPP/US and CIPP/E, is a leader in privacy and cybersecurity compliance and consumer protection law, with over 20 years of experience across four federal agencies, the White House, and in private law practice in Washington, D.C. Her unique experience allows her to offer clients the knowledge-base of a former regulator, the business know-how of an experienced corporate advocate and counselor, and the practical experience of an implementer of privacy and data security measures across large, multi-faceted organizations.

Prior to joining Davis Wright Tremaine, Helen implemented agency-wide privacy policies and programs at the Department of the Treasury and Department for Housing and Urban Development, bringing them into compliance with the Privacy Act—the federal government analog to the recent European Union General Data Protection Regulation.

Helen's extensive federal career began at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, performing investigations and enforcement actions, and leading some of the agency’s first rulemakings under FCRA and GLBA.

At the White House, Helen co-authored executive orders designed to improve cybersecurity and information sharing. She also created some of the first information sharing guidelines and agreements between the Department of Homeland Security and the intelligence community.  In addition, Helen served on the Executive Committee of the Federal Privacy Council and was a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on the Freedom of Information Act.

Before her federal career, Ms. Foster spent eight years in private law practice in Washington, D.C., where she counseled a range of clients, including consumer financial services providers, data aggregators, internet service providers, and retailers on the full spectrum of privacy, advertising, and marketing compliance issues. She has extensive experience representing clients in enforcement and rulemaking actions before the Federal Trade Commission.

Representative Experience

Advertising and consumer protection

Providing counsel on regulatory issues for advertisers and consumers including FTC Act, UDAP regulations, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA/Reg E), and state and federal Telemarketing Sales Rules (TSR). (Ongoing)

Financial and data services counseling

Providing sophisticated counsel on the application of the FCRA and GLBA to providers of financial services and data aggregation products and services across all industry types. (Ongoing)

Privacy and data security counseling

Providing nuanced privacy and data security advice to diverse clients on compliance with all manner of regulations, from emerging requirements such as EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s new privacy law, to the application of long-stating rules—such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and the Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) to innovative products and services. (Ongoing)

Consumer privacy counseling*

Provided consumer protection and privacy advice directly to product development teams and executives at a major internet service provider. (2004-2007)

COPPA investigation*

Successfully defended a large international social media site in FTC investigation of potential COPPA violations. Investigation was closed without action. (2007)

Online advertising counseling*

Drafted and reviewed disclosures and disclaimers for online and direct advertising of a variety of financial and other consumer products. (2004-2007)

Retail marketing compliance*

Advised on advertising substantiation and FTC marketing guides compliance for a variety of retail products. (2001-2002 and 2004-2007)
* Denotes experience completed at a prior firm

Additional Qualifications

  • Executive Lead for Reorganization and Change Management, Office of Financial Research, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Washington, D.C., 2018
  • Chief Privacy Officer and Chief FOIA Officer; Chief Administrative Officer and Executive Secretary – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, D.C., 2016-2018
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary for Privacy, Transparency, and Records, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Washington, D.C., 2013-2016
  • Director for Privacy and Civil Liberties, National Security Council, The White House, Washington, D.C., 2012-2013
  • Senior Director, Privacy Policy, Information Sharing, and Intelligence, Privacy Office, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C., 2009-2013
  • Counsel, Banking and Consumer Financial Services, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, Washington, D.C, 2007-2009
  • Counsel, Financial Institutions Group, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Washington, D.C., 2004-2007
  • Senior Attorney, Division of Financial Practices, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C., 1998-2002, 2003-2004
  • Associate, Privacy, Consumer Protection, and Lending, Bryan Cave LLP, Washington, D.C., 2002-2003
  • Litigation Associate, 1996-1998; Law Clerk, 1995-1996 – Bogin and Eig PC, Washington, D.C.

Professional & Community Activities

  • District of Columbia Bar Association
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), EC Council
  • Certified International Privacy Professional (CIPP/G), International Association of Privacy Professionals

Professional Recognition

  • Fed100 "Transparency Czar," Federal Week Magazine, March 2015
  • Nominated for a "Service to America Medal," January 2015