Skip to main site content.
Jennifer Newstead, Legal Advisor, U.S. Department of State, attends a hearing for alleged violations of the 1955 Treaty of Amity between Iran and the U.S., at the International Court in The Hague, Netherlands August 27, 2018. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw - RC196E5457C0

The insider

Lawyer famous for her role in government spying named chief legal counsel for Facebook

By WITW Staff on April 23, 2019

Jennifer Newstead is a Republican lawyer best known for helping to put legal muscle behind the Patriot Act, the legislation that granted the U.S. government unprecedented powers to spy on American citizens after the September 11th attacks. On Monday, Newstead was named Facebook’s new top lawyer. She will leave her role as a top legal adviser for the Trump State Department to serve as Facebook’s general counsel.

Facebook is currently embroiled in a number of legal battles for collecting and selling data on its users without their consent, as well as for the widespread dissemination of false information and propaganda on the platform. Facebook has also disclosed a rapid increase in government requests for user’s personal data, meaning that Newstead will now effectively be changing sides in the ongoing fight over how much information Facebook is required to turn over.

In her role as chief deputy in the Office of Legal Policy in 2001, Newstead effectively served as the “day-to-day manager of the Patriot Act in Congress,” according to then Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Woo. Over the past two decades, Newstead has jumped between private and public sector jobs, overseeing the government’s pursuit of new legal powers to fight terrorism and private companies’ efforts to evade government probes and regulatory enforcement.

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded to the news of her move to Facebook by hailing Newstead as the “first woman ever to head the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser” and for her outstanding “leadership qualities.”

“Jennifer is a seasoned leader whose global perspective and experience will help us fulfill our mission,” added Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in a news release.

Read the full story at the Washington Post.

Related

Journalist Carole Cadwalladr calls Facebook the ‘handmaidens to authoritarianism’

British woman facing prison in Dubai for insulting ex-husband’s new wife on Facebook

Jailed journalist says if not for Facebook, ‘I wouldn’t be in this position’