San Francisco: Facebook has appointed renowned civil rights attorney and advocate Roy L Austin to establish the company’s new civil rights organisation.
Austin will take on the role of VP of Civil Rights and Deputy General Counsel beginning on January 19, and will be based in Washington, DC, the company said in a statement late on Tuesday.
He joins Facebook from the law firm of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP, where he was a partner specialising in criminal defense and civil rights law.
“Technology plays a role in nearly every part of our lives, and it’s important that it be used to overcome the historic discrimination and hate which so many underrepresented groups have faced, rather than to exacerbate it,” Austin said.
“I could not pass up the opportunity to join a company whose products are used by so many and which impacts the civil rights and liberties of billions of people, in order to help steer a better way forward”.
He brings with him over 25 years of experience working as both a civil rights lawyer and advocate, having begun his career as an honors trial attorney with the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice.
From 2014 to 2017, Austin worked on the White House Domestic Policy Council as Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity.
“I know he will bring the same wisdom, integrity and dedication to Facebook. It’s hard to imagine anyone better qualified to help us strengthen and advance civil rights on our platform and in our company,” said Jennifer Newstead, Facebook General Counsel.
Austin also co-authored a report on Big Data and Civil Rights, worked with President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, helped develop the Police Data Initiative and was a member of the president’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper Task Force’.