Facebook Criticised For Hiring Government Policy Officials

Facebook has recruited ten former policy officials since the start of last year, heightening concerns of a close relationship between the Government and technology companies, The Times has reported.

The findings reveal a systematic hiring of Government officials with knowledge of the regulatory process, with officials leaving roles in Government and with regulators to work on policy and communications for Facebook.

Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Chairman Julian Knight (pictured) said that the public, “have a right to question the cosy relationship between Government and big tech at all levels”. He added: “The truth is big tech has taken over from the likes of banking, oil and pharmaceuticals in terms of their lobbying power.”

Damian Collins MP, former Chairman of the Committee, said that Facebook was, “clearly hiring people who have both direct personal knowledge of the latest thinking on how this could be developed, and extensive networks amongst the officials who will be advising Ministers on these issues. They are doing this to try and change the direction of policy before it is even launched.”

Three senior regulatory staff at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are among those who recently joined Facebook, The Times reported, and at least 14 special advisers had moved to tech companies including Uber, Google, Facebook in the past five years after a stint in Ministerial offices.

Steve Goodrich, of Transparency International UK, said: “In theory, there are restrictions on former civil servants using privileged information to benefit their new employers but how much this is enforced in practice is up for debate.”

Lucy Purdon, policy director at Privacy International said: “No doubt Facebook has one eye on the future and what influence they can hire in as the Government edges towards increasing protections for users and demanding more transparency from platforms.”

Susan Hawley, executive director of Spotlight on Corruption, said: “The system for regulating the revolving door in the UK is badly broken and urgently needs reform.”