Facebook just hired a handful of its toughest privacy critics

At a time when Facebook has been under increased public scrutiny like never before, the company is now hiring at least one of its fiercest antagonists.

On Tuesday, Facebook acknowledged that it had hired three veteran privacy law activists, including Nate Cardozo, an attorney formerly of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who has been very publicly critical of the company in recent years.

In 2015, Cardozo once wrote in an op-ed that Facebook’s “business model depends on our collective confusion and apathy about privacy.”

In addition to Cardozo, Facebook also hired attorney Robyn Greene, previously with the Open Technology Institute in Washington, DC, and Nathan White, who is set to leave his position at Access Now. (Full disclosure: Cardozo is a longtime friend of this author, and Greene provided a blurb for this author’s book.)

Cardozo will specifically be working on WhatsApp and will be based out of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The new hires will be working for Facebook itself and will work out of the Washington, DC, office.

Facebook declined to make the new hires available for interviews and explained the move in a statement sent to Ars.

“We think it’s important to bring in new perspectives to the privacy team at Facebook, including people who can look at our products, policies and processes with a critical eye,” said Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer.

He continued: “We know that we have a lot of work to do not only to restore people’s trust in Facebook, but also to improve their privacy experiences. We hope that the new hires we are making will challenge us to build better approaches to privacy in the future and we’re excited to have them onboard.”

The announcement drew widespread praise from their colleagues, including Chris Hoofnagle, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Good news: FB has hired Robyn Greene, Nate Cardozo & Nathan White—signal that FB might be taking critics seriously https://t.co/b9t1XRQPgB

— Chris Hoofnagle (@hoofnagle) January 29, 2019

Facebook has been beefing up its privacy team in recent months. The company also recently brought on Melinda Claybaugh, who came to the company after serving for more than a decade at the Federal Trade Commission.

That government agency is reportedly examining whether Facebook broke an earlier consent decree. If so, the company could face millions in fines.

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