Reports: Facebook hires former FTC chair to defend privacy issues

Heavy controversy, scrutiny over privacy changes may have lead Facebook to beef up its legal team with a big-gun antitrust attorney

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Several reports Monday claim Facebook has hired former Federal Trade Commission Chairman Tim Muris to help the company defend their privacy policies. (See the San Jose/Silicon Valley Business Journal's coverage.)

The move comes after news last week that 15 consumer watchdog groups have filed a complaint with the FTC over Facebook's new privacy settings, which, among other changes, now allows Facebook to share certain user information with several partner web sites.

Muris, who served as FTC chair for the Bush administration from 2001 until 2004, is currently an attorney with the Washington, D.C.-based firm O'Melveny & Myers and is co-chair of the firm's antitrust and competition practice. Muris is known for creating the "Do Not Call" list during his time with the FTC. That list gives U.S. consumers an opportunity to limit the telemarketing calls they receive.

Facebook has been under increased scrutiny lately over revised privacy policies that give users less control over what data in their profile can remain out of public view. The site was also in the news recently after it was revealed that a flaw was causing some users private chat histories to be seen by other friends in their network. (Also see 10 Security Reasons to Quit Facebook).

Reports Monday did not indicate when Muris would join Facebook. A report from AppScout claims Facebook issued a statement saying "Tim Muris has not joined Facebook."

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