Earlier this month, new Internet rules for India were announced by the government. The rules were vague, restrictive and open to the enforcer's interpretation. As the news about the laws spread, users voiced their concerns by writing on the issue and starting an online petition. Google India made a statement that the new rules would harm Internet growth and the company's interests in the country. The government, on their part, has taken note of the outcry and has promised to take another look at the laws.
While the new laws have no direct implication on Facebook as of now, the company has had to deal with the US Congress over their privacy policies quite a few times. In a pre-emptive move, Facebook is looking to hire a Public Policy Head, who, according to the job description will be Facebook's liaison to the Indian government. Some of the key responsibilities and requirements for the job are:
- Work with political bodies and non-governmental organizations on issues of privacy/data protection, safety and security, intellectual property, net neutrality, and other Internet-relevant public policy concerns
- Actively promote of the uses of Facebook with policymakers and influencers in both electoral and governing bodies
- Build coalitions to help advance and support Facebook’s policy agenda
- Monitor legislation and regulatory matters in states affecting Facebook and advise company with respect to policy challenges arising at the state governmental level
- Represent Facebook in meetings with governments and elected officials
- Keen understanding of the Indian political systems and institutions, outstanding judgment and persuasive skills, creativity, and the ability to work in a dynamic environment
- 8+ years of demonstrated experience managing legislation and/or government relations and advocacy work
According to May '11 statistics released by the Inside Network, Facebook has close to 25 Million users from India and a 160% 12-month growth (Facebook overtook Orkut back in 2010). Given the strong numbers, Facebook's search for a public policy head will be good for the company and even increase the scientific temper within the government towards social networks. Bureaucrats in India are aware of the benefits of social networks and have made use of Facebook for drafting public policies in the past. The Planning Commission within the government used Facebook to interact with citizens while drafting the Twelfth Plan.