Facebook is looking to appoint a Head of Public Policy for India (Hat tip – Karthik Sridhar @AntarYaami). According to a recruitment notice posted on the social networking site’s Careers section, the appointee will be Facebook’s primary contact with the Indian government and policymakers, will work closely with the Privacy and Public Policy global team and represent Facebook at appropriate industry associations.
The position holder will be responsible for monitoring the Indian political environment for policy issues of interest to Facebook, and legislation and regulatory matters in states affecting Facebook, and for advising company with respect to policy challenges arising at the state governmental level. He is also expected to work with the government and NGOs on issues related to privacy/data protection, safety and security, intellectual property, net neutrality, and other Internet-relevant public policy concerns, promote the use of Facebook with policymakers and influencers in electoral and governing bodies, and advise Facebook teams on public policy matters to guide development of products, services and policies. The more surprising part, listed under the responsibilities seems to be that he is also expected to build coalitions to help advance and support Facebook’s policy agenda. This when lobbying is prohibited in India.
The candidate is required to have 8+ years of demonstrated experience managing legislation and/or government relations and advocacy work, and a keen understanding of the Indian political systems and institutions, in addition to a an advanced degree in law or related field.
A Cause for Concern?
Although in a way, this reflects Facebook’s seriousness and commitment towards the Indian market, it also in a way stems out from the insecurity that arises out of the proposed internet regulations and the fact that the site receives content review and removal requests from the central and state governments, time and again. The Indian government has in the past blocked Facebook community pages that contained ‘offensive’ content. Even state governments have passed similar orders, with some like the Maharashtra Government asking its Cyber Cell to monitor social networking sites to detect crime.
The main cause of worry would be Facebook’s willingness to work with the Government in regulating content, which might lead to some kind of censorship. Recently, Google revealed that it received 1699 requests for disclosure of user data from the Indian government, and it complied with as much as 79% of the requests. It also received 67 requests for removal of 282 items of content, and it only complied with 22% of these requests. It will also be interesting to see how Facebook will adapt its own policies in line with the Indian scenario.