SAN FRANCISCO — Two months after bringing on a former Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner to oversee litigation, Facebook has tapped the firm to represent it in a privacy class action over its scanning of direct messages.
The move reunites Ashlie Beringer—Facebook’s new deputy general counsel for litigation, regulation and product issues—with Gibson Dunn partners Joshua Jessen and Christopher Chorba. The pair entered appearances for Facebook on Wednesday in Campbell v. Facebook, 13-5996. Filed in December by Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, the suit accuses Facebook of intercepting messages that users believe are private to help sell ads.
Retaining Gibson Dunn marks a departure for Facebook, which has long leaned on Cooley as its go-to privacy counsel. Cooley partner Michael Rhodes has defended the company in class actions targeting its “sponsored stories” feature and Beacon program, which publicized details of users’ personal lives. Facebook recently tapped Rhodes to represent it in DiTirro v. Facebook, 14-132, a Northern District class action that accuses the company of falsely indicating that users had liked advertisers’ pages.
Rhodes and his colleagues represent Google in a case that bears some resemblance to Facebook’s latest privacy dispute. In October, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh refused to dismiss a spate of class actions accusing Google of illegally mining personal data from Gmail messages, prompting Google to call in reinforcement from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Rhodes declined to comment.
Beringer is well acquainted with the company’s new litigators. Shortly before joining Facebook, Beringer teamed up with Jessen to beat back a privacy case against Apple. Jessen did not respond to a request for comment.
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