Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg meets with senators on privacy

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg meets with senators on privacy
© Greg Nash

Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg met with multiple senators on Capitol Hill Tuesday as lawmakers in both chambers seek to hammer out the nation's first comprehensive online privacy law. 

Sandberg's appearance on the Hill, first reported by Bloomberg News, comes as Facebook circles a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the social media giant's handling of user data, which could result a fine of up to $5 billion against Facebook and a requirement it submit to greater privacy oversight.  

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A spokesman for Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranOvernight Defense: Officials brief Congress after Iran shoots down drone | Lawmakers fear 'grave situation' | Trump warns Iran | Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales | Bombshell confession at Navy SEAL's murder trial The 7 GOP senators who voted to block all or part of Trump's Saudi arms sale Senate votes to block Trump's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Kansas) confirmed that Moran is sitting down with Sandberg this afternoon but declined to share further details before the meeting, while a spokeswoman for Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerBipartisan senators to introduce bill forcing online platforms to disclose value of user data GOP senators divided over approach to election security Hillicon Valley: House lawmakers reach deal on robocall bill | Laid-off journalists launch ads targeting tech giants | Apple seeks tariff exemptions | Facebook's Libra invites scrutiny MORE (D-Va.) said he is planning to bring up social media regulation at his own meeting with Sandberg.  

Warner last year released a white paper with 20 proposals to rein in Big Tech. 

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerHillicon Valley: Democratic state AGs sue to block T-Mobile-Sprint merger | House kicks off tech antitrust probe | Maine law shakes up privacy debate | Senators ask McConnell to bring net neutrality to a vote Lawmakers demand answers on Border Patrol data breach Senators call on McConnell to bring net neutrality rules to a vote MORE (R-Miss.) told Bloomberg News that he discussed federal privacy legislation during his meeting with Sandberg earlier in the day.

A Facebook spokesperson said Sandberg is in Washington, D.C. to discuss regulations with policymakers, as well as meet with civil rights groups. The spokesperson specified that the trip does not pertain to Facebook's upcoming settlement with the FTC.  

Moran and Wicker are members of the bipartisan Senate working group seeking to draft privacy legislation that would likely affect the business model of social media companies like Facebook, which rely on collecting user data to sell advertisements. 

Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzDemocrats call for restraint, oversight as Trump reportedly calls back Iranian strike Democrats mark World Refugee Day Nonpartisan Jewish group tells Ocasio-Cortez to avoid Holocaust comparisons MORE (D-Hawaii), another member of the working group, is not scheduled to meet with Sandberg, his spokesman said.

The offices of the group's other members, including top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and member of the committee John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP senators divided over approach to election security McSally on Moore running for Senate again: 'This place has enough creepy old men' Hillicon Valley: GOP senator wants one agency to run tech probes | Huawei expects to lose B in sales from US ban | Self-driving car bill faces tough road ahead | Elon Musk tweets that he 'deleted' his Twitter account MORE (R-S.D.), did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment. 

The Senate Commerce Committee also oversees the FTC, which is supposed to hand down its Facebook decision as soon as this week. 

Facebook last month said it has set aside up to $5 billion settle the FTC privacy investigation, which was launched last year after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a right-wing political consulting agency, obtained data on millions of Facebook users without their knowledge. 

Several media outlets have reported that a settlement could also involve a requirement that Facebook establish privacy compliance officials.