A cross-department team at Penningtons Manches Cooper has been appointed to advise the newly established Oversight Board, which will make independent decisions about content on Facebook and Instagram. The Oversight Board was set up by Facebook with a $130 million fund and is made up of carefully selected members, including former Danish Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former editor-in-chief of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, and Pakistani digital rights advocate, Nighat Dad, who will each serve three year initial terms. They will review and decide on content; what to take down, what to leave up, and why. The Board will take decisions with regards to Facebook's Content Policies and values, as well as freedom of expression and human rights. It will make public decisions on controversial cases where users have exhausted Facebook’s usual appeals process, which Facebook has committed to implement except where doing so would violate the law. The Board Members, who will be located worldwide, will be supported by an Administration, whose staff will be based in London, Washington DC and San Francisco.
In order to support the Oversight Board, Penningtons Manches Cooper has formed a multi-disciplinary team which reflects the Board’s wide-ranging needs. Joanne Vengadesan, Dan Lovett, Fiona Rodgers, Oliver Kidd and Liz Gillingham are advising on commercial, data protection and privacy matters alongside an employment team comprising Chris Syder, Tom Pimenta, Sophie Humphrey and Ebi Oni. Celso de Azevedo and a team which includes John Doherty, Nick Bamber and Valya Georgieva have advised on insurance and regulatory matters. The team has been working closely with Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP, US counsel based in Delaware who helped set up the trust.
The first Director of the Oversight Board Administration, Thomas Hughes said: “The Oversight Board has been set up to provide independent judgment on cases referred by both users and Facebook, whilst ensuring respect for freedom of expression and human rights. The team at Penningtons Manches Cooper has been exceptional and provided essential advice throughout the initial phase of this project; we are delighted to have reached the recent milestone of announcing our initial Board Members, and we look forward to working with the firm as we move towards being fully operational and carrying out the first case reviews later this year.”
Partner Joanne Vengadesan commented: “It has been a pleasure to work with the Oversight Board as it commences its pioneering and complex work. We’re especially proud that we have built a highly experienced, multi-practice team that is ready and able to deliver seamless support to the Board’s Members."