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Facebook's Former Privacy Officer's Political Campaign

Chris Kelly, candidate for California Attorney General, is finding himself in the middle of Facebook's privacy controversy.

Chris Kelly, candidate for California Attorney General.
Source: Kelly2010.com
Chris Kelly, candidate for California Attorney General.

Today I caught up with him on the campaign trail as he tried to convince small business owners that he would be a pioneer for intellectual property and privacy protection, and wouldn't shill for his former employer.

His experience as Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer is central to his campaign, but he's also trying to distance himself from Facebook's current policies. He led Facebook's privacy rule-making until he took a leave of absence last August, officially leaving the company in March.

Today Kelly spoke at an event hosted by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Microsoftfor small businesses. The topic was the benefit of cloud computing (yes, Microsoft was a sponsor) and how to protect data and privacy.

He made a point to clarify his relationship with former employer, saying that it wouldn't at all affect his judgment or perspective. He admitted that yes, he still owns stock in Facebook. Conflict of interest? He'll consider divesting if elected.

Kelly tells me he's confident Facebook will do the right thing, clarifying and simplifying privacy controls. This negative attention on his former employer isn't doing him any favors.

A solution for Facebook's privacy problems will also help Kelly's campaign. This dance between pride in what he accomplished at Facebook and criticism of what happened since he left can't be easy, and it can't be helping his message.

Tomorrow Facebook will unveil it's new privacy controls. I'll be reporting live from the company's headquarters in Palo Alto on this next step.

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