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.  

ADVERTISEMENT

A spokesman for Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranOn The Money: Judge upholds House subpoena for Trump financial records | Trump vows to appeal ruling by 'Obama-appointed judge' | Canada, Mexico lift retaliatory tariffs on US | IRS audit rate falls GOP senator calls for resolution of trade dispute: 'Farmers and ranchers are hurting' Frustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran 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 WarnerHillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senators offer bipartisan bill to help US firms remove Huawei equipment from networks DOJ plans to show Senate Intel less-redacted Mueller report, filing shows 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: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Congress reaches deal on disaster aid Senators offer bipartisan bill to help US firms remove Huawei equipment from networks 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 SchatzOvernight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan Democratic senators want NBC primary debate to focus on climate change Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds 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 ThuneFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Hillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senate passes anti-robocall bill 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.