Facebook puts ex-FCC chair in charge of public policy


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Facebook is shuffling senior leadership in its Washington, DC office in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal that has drawn increased scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators.

The company confirmed this Tuesday that Erin Egan, the head of policy for the US responsible for government relations, will step aside to focus on her role as chief privacy officer for the company. She will be replaced in her policy role by Kevin Martin, Facebook’s vice president of mobile and global access policy. Martin is a former Republican chairman of the Federal Communications Commission appointed to that position during the George W. Bush administration. He served as chairman from 2005 to 2009. 

The shakeup comes a month after The New York Times and the UK’s Guardian and Observer newspapers broke news that millions of Facebook users’ data had been leaked to a political consulting firm called Cambridge Analytica, which had done work for the Donald Trump presidential campaign. The news prompted US lawmakers to call CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Washington for two days of testimony about why Facebook failed to adequately safeguard as many as 87 million users’ privacy.

The Federal Trade Commission has also started an investigation into whether Facebook violated a consent decree from 2011 in which it promised to protect the privacy of users.

Meanwhile, Facebook is also dealing with new privacy regulations that take effect in Europe next month. And regulators in several European countries, including Ireland and Germany, also want to talk to Zuckerberg.

Egan is abdicating some of her duties on US policy to focus exclusively on privacy matters throughout the world. She’ll be working with regulators around the globe, as well, as product teams at Facebook to ensure the company has better protections in place.

“We need to focus our best people on our most important priorities,” Elliot Schrage, vice president of communications and public policy for Facebook said in a statement. “We are committed to rebuilding people’s trust in how we handle their information, and Erin is the best person to partner with our product teams on that task.”

Cambridge Analytica: Everything you need to know about Facebook’s data mining scandal.

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