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Facebook's new top lawyer helped write Patriot Act

Jennifer Newstead was also a legal adviser to the Trump administration's State Department.

Facebook logo is seen on an Android mobile device with USA
Facebook brought on a US government official as its general counsel.
Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook has named State Department legal adviser and Patriot Act architect Jennifer Newstead as its general counsel, the company said Monday in a blog post.

She joins Facebook as the social network faces US government probes and Europe's GDPR data privacy law in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Her time at the Trump administration's State Department began in 2017. At the time, Buzzfeed News highlighted her role in crafting the 2001 Patriot Act. That legislation, signed into law by President George W. Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, gave the government broad surveillance and detention powers.

US Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh noted Newstead's role in 2002, The Hill reported.

"Her enhanced leadership duties and her excellent service on a range of issues -- including helping craft the new U.S.A. Patriot Act to protect the United States against terror -- have earned her this important distinction. She is first among equals," he said in a 2002 Justice Department press release.

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She'll take over the Facebook role from Colin Stretch, who will stick around until summer as part of the transition.

"I'm excited to be joining Facebook at an important time and working with such a fantastic team," Newstead said in Facebook's blog post. "Facebook's products play an important role in societies around the world. I am looking forward to working with the team and outside experts and regulators on a range of legal issues as we seek to uphold our responsibilities and shared values."