Friday, June 11, 2010

Kamala Harris: We Like Your Status

A note from Generation Y

Dear California Attorney General Nominee Kamala Harris,

We would like to formally congratulate you on your decisive primary election victory on Tuesday. You have led a robust campaign built on your strengths as a sharp leader and a resilient crime fighter. The grassroots efforts launched by your campaign mobilized over half a million votes in your direction, and you should be tremendously proud of your effort.

We understand that your next opponent, Steve Cooley, means business; and you will need every weapon in your arsenal to defeat him in November. As we all saw in 2008, and even back in the 2006 midterm elections, voters aged 18-30 are turning out for elections in droves not seen since the Vietnam War. Chalk it up to demographics (we are, after all, about 20% of the population here in California and growing), a renewed sense of civic pride, or just plain old dissatisfaction with the government: we Gen Y’ers are voting – and we must be heard.

Facebook, the social networking behemoth that employed your main primary election opponent, Chris Kelly, as its Chief Privacy Officer, has recently come under fire for some profound issues in guarding the privacy of its 500 million+ users. The company now makes public record of our activity in the Facebook world, and shares information about which websites we visit. We have witnessed anti-Facebook push-back in the past when interfaces have changed or audiences broadened, but never envisioned the issue becoming a politically-charged topic of contention. And although you defeated Chris Kelly by beating the drum of online privacy rights, we hope we have not seen the end of your fight against those who violate our personal space on the web.

Internet privacy issues are a cause that matters to more than just us Gen-Y’ers. Your crusade against sexual predators that use Facebook to coerce users as young as elementary school will resonate with their parents in the voting booth. If consumers of online markets – many of which are based in California – begin to sense a lack of discretion on the web, this could have tremendous impacts on this state’s fragile reputation in the business world.

For Generation Y, privacy rights is a highly mobilizing issue. Beyond the ebbs and flows of our largely superficial use of social networking, you will inspire confidence in Generation Y’ers who worry that a lack of privacy online may mean doomsday for their reputations in the business world or credit market. For those of us who may be unaffected (or uninspired) by the politics of criminal justice in this state, Facebook policy – the road less traveled by politicians – will spark the attention of many young voters.

We thank you for acknowledging this vital issue and resonating with your youngest constituents. On the verge of Generation Y yourself, you already have over 23,000 Facebook “fans” that need your protection. Our needs for privacy protection have now extended far beyond the rallying cries of Facebook groups and fan pages. We hope you continue to offer valuable solutions throughout the campaign season, and into your term as Attorney General of California.

Generation Y

PS: BTW, my friend request is pending…