Posted May 4, 2010 9:36 am by with 1 comment

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Isn’t this interesting? Right in the middle of all the hubbub around Facebook and Google’s alleged lack of concern for the privacy of their users, the former Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook is running for the office of California Attorney General. Hmmmm. Chris Kelly was with Facebook from 2005 until August of last year when he took a leave of absence for his run for office. He officially left the company in March to take a swing at public service. Of course, he probably made some serious scratch from his time at Facebook so making this break may be a lot easier for him than for most.

Now he is busy making sure there is enough distance between him and the recent changes in privacy policy that Facebook has both received a lot of grief for and just as vehemently denied any wrongdoing. A statement from his site (which looks awful familiar doesn’t it?) tells us how he feels about Facebook nowadays.

I strongly encourage Facebook to structure all its programs to allow Facebook users to give permission before their information is shared with third parties.

I’m proud of the work I did at Facebook to make the Internet safer and more secure. Because of Facebook and my work there, the Internet is a safer and more secure place today than when I joined the company.

Facebook’s recent changes to its privacy policy and practices with regard to data sharing occurred after I left the company. My principle for evaluating these changes in the law enforcement role of Attorney General will be based on the same views of consumer protection that I upheld when I represented Facebook — do they meet the requirements of consumer protection law by giving users meaningful control over their personal information?

When I am Attorney General, Facebook, like every company, will have to comply with its obligations to adhere to the law, provide truthful information to consumers and to keep its promises about their privacy rights. As Attorney General, I will represent the citizens of the state of California to protect consumers from fraud and other corporate malfeasance. Any company that breaks the law, including Facebook, will face the full extent of the state’s prosecutorial powers.

Facebook can’t catch a break these days can it? Apparently running roughshod over privacy concerns can make for some tough times.

My question is: Will these privacy concerns ever really have an impact on Facebook? It doesn’t appear that anyone is truly interested in stopping what they are doing. Instead it seems like so much election year “let’s say it because it sounds good enough to get me elected” talk. The spoken or written word means absolutely nothing if not followed by action. Recent concerns by senators and the people in general are all hollow gestures unless Facebook is truly called to the mat.

In all honesty, I don’t anyone is going to have the stones to truly take Facebook or any other popular Internet player to task on any of this here in the US. Other countries, like Canada, have pushed back on Facebook and “won” to one degree or another. I’m not rooting for anyone in particular to have any victory over Facebook but I am saying that if the talk and rhetoric escalates there needs to be action behind it. If there is just going to be words then please just shut up already.

Who knows? Maybe Mr. Kelly will turns into the Eliot Spitzer of Internet privacy because of his knowledge of “the system”. Let’s just hope his imitation of Mr. Spitzer’s tactics stops right there ;-).

  • It would be great to see any elected official actually follow through with what they claim they will be doing. Users of any site deserve to have their privacy respected!
    Thanks for doing a post about this! Now all that’s left to do is sit back and see if Mr. Kelly follows through with his words. If he doesn’t however, I can’t say that I would be surprised.
    .-= David Walker´s last blog ..My 30th Birthday Giveaway – Contributors Needed! =-.