Facebook Taps Former FTC Chair to Make Its Privacy Case

Muris_T14508_bio.jpgFacebook has retained a former Federal Trade Commission chairman to serve as an advocate for the company on Capitol Hill, according to a report. The move comes weeks after changes to the social network’s consumer data policies sparked outrage from lawmakers and privacy advocates.

The Financial Times reported (registration required) Tim Muris will help Facebook defend its privacy practices to elected officials and agency regulators.

Muris was FTC chairman from 2001 to 2004, during a time when e-mail spam was the key Internet policy issue facing digital marketers and consumers. After that stint, he joined the firm O’Melveny & Myers as counsel. Before President George W. Bush named him to head up the FTC, Muris had a long career at the agency – including stints as director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection and of the Bureau of Competition, both in the early ’80s.

Muris would not be Facebook’s first privacy appointment. One year ago the company snared Tim Sparapani, a former lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, where he had strong ties to privacy advocates.

Facebook’s former chief privacy officer, Chris Kelly, quit the company to run for California Attorney General. Last week he appeared to distance himself from his erstwhile employer.

“Facebook’s recent changes to its privacy policy and practices with regard to data sharing occurred after I left the company,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Facebook declined to comment.

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