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Mr. Facebook Goes to Washington

Paranoid about online privacy? Popular networking site Facebook has hired Timothy Sparapani, former ACLU counsel and all-around man of the people, as a lobbyist for Internet confidentiality. A self-described “privacy zealot,” Sparapani teams up with Facebook at a time when the site is scrutinized for its hold on users’ information—in March it came under fire for trying to claim ownership to all data and photos—in an attempt to befriend Washington. The Obama administration, for one, is an avid contributor to Web 2.0, but the notion of the federal government having a stake in networking sites raises questions about their access to user information. Executive director for the Center of Digital Democracy Jeff Chester said hiring Sparapani should put Facebook’s 200 million users’ minds at rest: “Given his history as a privacy advocate, Tim is simply not going to be able to accept, without a crisis of conscience, any technique by Facebook that would unfairly use and reveal data,” Chester said.