Ex-federal judge: Facebook's privacy move is effort to stay ahead of legal action

Former federal judge Walter Kelley called Facebook’s shift toward a more privacy-focused platform a ”time-honored” lobbying strategy to stay ahead of potential political or legal action.

“It’s both legal and political,” Kelley told Hill.TV’s Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball on Thursday in response to a question about Facebook’s new strategy.

“The law obviously lags behind tech development, necessarily so tech moves at a very fast pace — legislation moves at a glacial pace,” he said. “An awful lot of what we’re seeing is trying to get ahead of whatever congressional action — or in the case of the EU [European Union] — whatever action they might take to try to pass legislation that has to do with privacy.”

“It’s a time-honored strategy in the lobbying world is getting ahead of a problem, I see this being driven principally by that,” he added.

Facebook announced Wednesday that it is pivoting away from broadcasting information publicly to focus more on private messaging.

In a 3,200-word blog post, Zuckerberg outlined the company’s new strategy, which calls for private interactions, encryption, secure data storage and an ability to delete messages. Zuckerberg also said the company is working on making messages interoperable between its three giant messaging services Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.

"I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won't stick around forever," Zuckerbeg said in the post.

The moves comes after a series of privacy scandals, and a growing movement to regulate big tech across the globe.

The company admitted last year that UK-based data firm Cambridge Analytica, which was used by the Trump campaign in 2016, had improperly obtained private data from as many as 87 million Facebook users.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission said last week that it expects to complete the first of its seven planned investigations into Facebook’s various data practices by the end of the summer.

—Tess Bonn