Facebook Taps Key Lawyers To Navigate Privacy Issues

As Facebook scrambles to address yet another privacy scandal, the company has hired several top privacy lawyers.
It's also under fire for duping children.

Perhaps most notably, Nate Cardozo is leaving the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to manage privacy at Facebook’s WhatsApp unit.

As a senior staff attorney at the nonprofit digital rights group, Cardozo has been an outspoken critic of Facebook.

In a 2015 op-ed, Cardozo described the company’s position on a particular privacy matter as “disingenuous and fundamentally unfair.”

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Cardozo’s decision to join WhatsApp came after some careful deliberation, he said.

“If you know me at all, you’ll know this isn’t a move I’d make lightly,” Cardozo notes in a new post. “After the privacy beating Facebook’s taken over the last year, I was skeptical, too.”

“But the privacy team I’ll be joining knows me well, and knows exactly how I feel about tech policy, privacy and encrypted messaging,” Cardozo said of his future coworkers at Facebook. “And that’s who they want managing privacy at WhatsApp.’

Facebook has also brought in Robyn Greene, formerly senior policy counsel and government affairs lead for the Open Technology Institute, who specializes in surveillance and cybersecurity. Another hire, Nathan White, was formerly a senior legislative manager at Access Now.

Greene and White will be based in Washington, D.C., while Cardoza will be based out of Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

The hires come in the wake of news that Facebook is planning to more closely align WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram.

The company is apparently interested in allowing cross-platform messaging between the respective platforms, per a report in The New York Times.

That will involve Facebook rebuilding the three platform’s messaging infrastructures, sources tell NYT. Doing so is expected to let Facebook eventually offer end-to-end encryption across its entire network of properties.

Among other implications, the move could hasten a confrontation between Facebook, privacy advocates and regulators, according to Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser.

“The idea they would encrypt everything, paired with the tighter integration of the services, is a ‘thumb in the nose’ to regulators concerned about data-sharing, as well as encryption,” Wieser said last week.
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