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Facebook Policy

Facebook Hires Another Privacy Advocate and Critic

Kevin Bankston, currently director of the privacy-focused Open Technology Institute in Washington, will be joining Facebook as a director of privacy policy, he announced Tuesday. Bankston joins a number of privacy advocates at the beleaguered tech giant, as The Information previously reported. All have said they hope to change the company from within and help improve its privacy practices.

“I’ve been critical of Facebook in the past, so it’s natural to ask why I’d want to join the company. My answer is simply this: I am not going to Facebook despite the fact that I have been a critic. I am going because I have been,” Mr. Bankston wrote in a blog post, saying he couldn’t make excuses for past mistakes by Facebook but could help ensure they make the right decisions going forward.

But higher up in the company’s policy org chart, the company has hired someone who once was tasked with defending the constitutionality of expanded government surveillance, as a BuzzFeed story details. 

Mr. Bankston’s hire comes a day after the company announced its new general counsel, Jennifer Newstead, a Trump-appointed State Department lawyer and former Bush administration official who helped write the Patriot Act. Privacy advocates, including Mr. Bankston, derided parts of the Patriot Act as unlawful government surveillance. Eleven senators voted against Ms. Newstead’s appointment to State, including vocal Democratic tech critics.

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