Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly will be announcing his candidacy for the office of Attorney General of California, we’ve heard from multiple sources. He’ll be running in the 2010 election as a Democrat, and will be leaving Facebook (or taking a leave of absence) in June 2009 to focus on his campaign.
This puts Facebook in an awkward position, as Kelly has led the team that represents the company in their ongoing negotiations with Attorneys General around the U.S. They’ll need to hire a replacement for Kelly, fast.
As Facebook grows it continues to draw fire from the government and various privacy advocates, and things are going to get worse over time, not better. Concerns range from too much private information getting into the hands of third parties to Facebook becoming a platform for the spread of computer viruses. Reports of terrorist and hate groups using the site to draw recruits have recently popped up. And Facebook, like many online services, wages a relentless war against spammers.
It will be interesting to see if voters think of Kelly as a man in the trenches who understands privacy and security issues, or the guy who’s defended Facebook’s various slip ups over the years as the company has experimented with new privacy-pushing products like Beacon.
Kelly is a former attorney who worked at Baker & Mckenzie and Wilson Sonsini. He also served as an education advisor in the Clinton Administration. He wouldn’t comment on this article (nor would he comment on the “latte incident“).