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Facebook Lawyer Explores Run for Calif. AG

Two-hundred million is not a bad constituency on which to base a run for elective office. That is the number of active members of the social networking site Facebook. Granted, not all of them are in California -- or even of voting age. But Facebook users are sure to provide some degree of momentum to the company's chief privacy officer Chris Kelly as he considers a campaign for attorney general of California.

On Wednesday, Kelly announced the formation of a committee to explore a run for AG and launched a Web site and, of course, a Facebook fan page. "Many people I respect have asked me to run for California Attorney General in 2010 and after much consideration, I am launching a committee to further explore the race," he said in a statement. "California's justice system, and our political system as a whole, needs radical change to serve our citizens more effectively. Politics as usual won't cut it anymore."

Before graduating from Harvard Law School in 1997, Kelly worked on Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and then in the Clinton White House as policy adviser to the White House Domestic Policy Council, where he helped launch AmeriCorps. Currently, as Facebook's chief privacy officer, he oversees the privacy, security and safety of its users. For the time being, he will continue in that job.

In an interview with CNET News, Kelly likens his work for a technology company to the job of the AG. "Over the past few years at Facebook, it's become clear to me that the role of the attorney general is incredibly able to help make change in the world, and that's what I got into technology to do, too." While his affiliation with Facebook no doubt has its advantages, it also comes with some baggage, he acknowledges. "I expect that the politics-as-usual crowd will try to make a bunch of stuff out of situations where Facebook has acted incredibly responsibly, and has been able to address the real problems of the Internet, and to build the systems that build a safer and more trusted online experience over time."

Spoken like a true candidate. And given that this candidate happens to be savvy about online networking and works for the most popular networking site in the world, he could well prove to be a face worth watching. 

[For previous coverage on the run-up to Kelly's announcement, see Legal Pad, here and here.]

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 1, 2009 at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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