Public Citizen

Public Citizen

Digital Trade Research Director
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch Division

Based in Washington, DC


Public Citizen seeks a strategic and experienced Research Director to coordinate the Digital Trade Alliance and other projects related to the Big Tech accountability and trade as part of our Global Trade Watch (GTW) division. The Digital Trade Research Director works with GTW’s Director and a coalition of experts and social leaders from digital rights and consumer groups from around the world to identify policy positions, lines of research and advocacy plans related to the intersection of Big Tech accountability and the global trade agenda. The Research Director provides technical assistance to developing country governments and civil society; conducts their own research; helps lead international campaigns on Big Tech; and helps raise funds to support the Digital Trade Alliance.

Lax domestic and global regulation has allowed Big Tech to enjoy broad and unfettered freedom to design, implement, and exploit e-commerce and digital systems and technologies. While new digital technologies, products and systems have brought important benefits to people across the planet, the lack of oversight and regulation has enabled Big Tech to invade people’s privacy, design and deploy a system of mass corporate surveillance, leverage its economic might to diminish competitors, discriminate (typically unintentionally) against vulnerable populations, and concentrate enormous political and economic power. The rise of Big Tech has inarguably contributed to a surge in wealth and income inequality, within and between countries. Public Citizen has been a leader in working to hold Big Tech accountable in the United States as well as identifying the dangers of so-called digital trade rules with respect to efforts to regulate Big Tech around the globe.

The Digital Trade Alliance is a global coalition, coordinated by Public Citizen, that brings together digital rights groups who have expertise in policymaking around privacy, antitrust, algorithm transparency, and surveillance to promote a pro-consumer agenda in digital trade and global policy discussions. With Big Tech operating on a global scale and increasingly seeking international trade rules to override privacy and pro-consumer rules, the Digital Trade Alliance’s work is urgent, essential and in demand. The Digital Trade Alliance’s approach and impact was exemplified by our successful #SaveWhatsApp campaign that identified how WhatsApp’s proposed privacy changes represented an effort by Facebook/Meta (the owner of WhatsApp) to convert the product into a global marketplace and helped spur investigations by national competition policy officials of the privacy policy change in eight countries. WhatsApp then abandoned its plans.

The Research Director will help commission research, organize convenings of global experts, and design advocacy plans to advance transformative change in international trade rulemaking to advance digital rights.

RESPONSIBILITIES: The Digital Trade Alliance Research Director’s responsibilities include:

  • Conceptualize and develop strategic research and advocacy agendas in priority areas, including internet privacy and digital rights, with the GTW Director.
  • Conduct intensive and specialized research on global digital policy issues, focusing on emerging Big Tech economic and policy strategies.
  • Provide technical assistance to partners including international organizations and developing country government officials and civil society organizations.
  • Develop research-based advocacy plans with coalition partners.
  • Author technically sophisticated publications and analysis for Public Citizen, and oversee the research program of the Digital Trade Alliance.
  • Oversee research fellows and interns as required. Guide and collaborate with research staff as required.
  • Recruit new global partners to join the Digital Trade Alliance and other digital policy networks.
  • Speak to press and at public events representing Public Citizen.
  • Seek out grants and other financial support. Build relationships with foundations and other donors. Draft grant proposals and grant reports.
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • Knowledge: Subject matter expertise required. You need to understand and be able to track Big Tech! Desirable specific areas of expertise include the information economy, trade policy and law, digital rights and privacy, antitrust and competition policy.
  • Work Experience: At least seven years post-graduate professional experience (or doctorate or equivalent) required. Significant advocacy experience required.
  • Skills: Excellent research, writing and analysis skills required. Advanced professional research method skills required (example: legal research and comparative law). Excellent communications, strategy and advocacy skills required. You need to have a cross-cultural facility; fluency in more than one language is desirable.
  • Capabilities: Ability to work alone and in collaboration; attention to detail and technical accuracy; ability to envision project development and complete work on deadline; commitment to standing up to corporate power; flexibility and ability to respond quickly to new developments.
  • Education: A law degree or postgraduate degree is desirable but not required. However, you do need to bring the advanced research skills commensurate with those degrees.
  • Conditions: Available to travel extensively; passion for the subject matter and for research; commitment to advancing the public interest; good humor and discretion.

Competitive salary between $88,712 and $108,243 dependent on relevant experience and qualifications and generous benefits package. Public Citizen staff are represented by SEIU Local 500 and our salaries are set according to our collective bargaining agreement. Public Citizen does not negotiate salaries. This is a one year, grant contingent position, with possibility of renewal pending continued funding.

Below is a list of some of our benefits (please note that some benefits have eligibility requirements).

  • Great medical and dental coverage, 100% paid by PC, including full coverage for children
  • Three weeks paid vacation for new employees, plus five personal days
  • 401K plan with a 5% contribution from PC after one year of employment
  • 12 weeks of paid parental leave after one year of employment
  • Sabbatical after 10 years of employment
  • Student loan reimbursement program

Send a letter of interest, résumé and writing sample to gtwapplicants@citizen.org. Initial screening of applications will begin immediately and will close as soon as a suitable candidate is identified.

Public Citizen is an equal opportunity employer. People of color, women, LGBT candidates are encouraged to apply. Public Citizen employees are proud members of SEIU Local 500.

More About Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch:
Public Citizen is a national nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent the public interest in Congress, the executive branch and the courts. We fight for openness and democratic accountability in government; for social and economic justice in globalization and trade policies; for clean, safe and sustainable energy; for strong health, safety and environmental protections; for safe, effective and affordable medicines and health care; and for the right of consumers to seek redress in the courts. We have offices in Washington, D.C., and Texas. Public Citizen has over 300,000 members and supporters.

The mission of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division is to ensure that in this era of globalization, the 99% in America and around the world have the opportunity to enjoy economic security; a clean environment; safe food, medicines and products; access to quality affordable services such as health care; and the exercise of democratic decision-making about the matters that affect their lives.

Public Citizen started working on globalization and “trade” issues in 1991 when we recognized that this was necessary simply to remain effective advocates for the public health, consumer safety, environmental and economic justice goals Public Citizen had promoted over decades. Motivating this strategic initiative was our realization that today’s international commercial agreements, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), were no longer mainly about trade per se. Rather, these far-reaching agreements were backdoor delivery mechanisms to implement an expansive, enforceable package of nontrade policies – limits on financial regulation and food safety, new monopoly patent rights over medicines that limit access, limits on Internet freedom, new investor rights that promote job offshoring and subject public interest policies to attack, and more. This corporate-led version of globalization is designed to limit governments’ role in regulating the economy and to eliminate many of the public-interest safeguards Public Citizen and like-minded organizations and activists had won over decades. And it shifts decision-making on matters previously determined in national, state and local venues to international bodies where those affected by the decisions have no meaningful role.

Since its inception in 1995, GTW has been a leader in popularizing the globalization and trade debate by connecting these seemingly arcane policies to people’s everyday experiences – and helping people make a difference in the future of globalization by giving them the tools they need to educate their communities, hold Congress accountable for policy choices and hit the streets to protest. GTW works with diverse national and international coalitions and is an active member of the national Citizens Trade Campaign coalition and the Our World Is Not for Sale global network.

For more information, please see our website: www.tradewatch.org.

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