At issue in the case is a cache of confidential Facebook documents produced during Six4Three’s lawsuit, which were seized by Mr Collins last November using an archaic and rarely tested parliamentary manoeuvre.
Six4Three was once the creator of an app that let Facebook users find pictures of their friends in bikinis, using the same data-sharing functions that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook cut off access to such data in 2014, which Six4Three alleges unfairly destroyed its business.
In December, Mr Collins published 250 pages of internal emails showing how Facebook had used its hoard of users’ personal data to selectively extract benefits from other companies while cutting off access to those deemed “strategic competitors”.
Since then, further pages from the document cache have appeared online, and it is unclear how many more may be in the public domain. Facebook’s lawyers have sought aggressively to control the leaks and identify their source by pushing for Six4Three’s legal team to be cross-examined under oath.
The number of lawyers involved in the case has consequently multiplied, with Six4Three’s old legal team now represented by their own lawyers and the company’s founder, Ted Kramer, forced to retain new counsel.
Mr Kramer has said he “panicked” and handed over the documents to Mr Collins after being visited in his hotel room in London by the House of Commons’ Serjeant at Arms and threatened with jail for contempt of Parliament.