Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly Announces Exploratory Committee for California Attorney General Run

Facebook’s Chris Kelly, who has been at the forefront of Facebook’s online privacy issues during his tenure as Chief Privacy Officer, has just announced that he is forming an exploratory committee for his long-rumored run for California’s Attorney General.

In a YouTube video posted on his campaign website (also embedded below), Kelly said today:

For the past four years, as the chief privacy offer at Facebook, a company that has only begun to transform our information based economy, I have dealt first hand with the complex legal challenges and privacy issues that affect California businesses and consumers. We need a strong consumer protection advocate as California’s chief law enforcement officer, defending people against unfair practices and schemes…

For the past four years I’ve worked closely with attorneys general from across the nation to make the internet safer for consumers of all ages, particularly young people. I understand the technological challenges parents face in protecting their children from potential online predators, preserving online privacy, because I’ve been building systems to help protect you and your children.

Kelly has indeed spent a lot of time in recent years helping working with attorneys general from around the country as Facebook has sought to fight off spammers, online predators, and a host of other issues. Kelly also presented to the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation last summer on Facebook’s privacy policy and issues related to Beacon, Facebook’s information sharing/advertising product that generated significant privacy concerns and was eventually shut down. Facebook has since relaunched related functionality in opt-in form through Facebook Connect.

He also served as Facebook’s spokesperson during the latest round of privacy concerns after the terms of service update that it ultimately reverted, declaring publicly that Facebook users own their own data.

Clearly, Kelly is going to lean on his deep experience in cutting edge online privacy questions in his campaign messaging. These emerging issues are going to only have increasing impact on the everyday lives of millions of citizens as more and more of our lives are shared online and through Facebook. Kelly has experience working on privacy law in a variety of corporate settings, including Spoke, Excite@Home, Baker and McKinzie, and Wilson & Sonsini.

Kelly’s run for California AG has been rumored for a long time. Facebook recently hired the ACLU’s Timothy Sparapani as Head of Public Policy, who may take over some of Kelly’s work now that he will be busy campaigning this year.

You can follow Kelly’s campaign on Facebook and Twitter.