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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) MoranIt's time for Congress to act: Save jobs and stabilize the aerospace industry Lobbying world This World Suicide Prevention Day, let's recommit to protecting the lives of our veterans 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 WarnerLeadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns IRS races to get remaining stimulus checks to low-income households Hillicon Valley: Trump fires top federal cybersecurity official, GOP senators push back | Apple to pay 3 million to resolve fight over batteries | Los Angeles Police ban use of third-party facial recognition software 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 WickerGOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics Republicans start turning the page on Trump era The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states 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 SchatzTech CEOs clash with lawmakers in contentious hearing Bitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Senate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination 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 ThuneDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Overnight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump keeps tight grip on GOP amid divisions 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.