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.  

{mosads}A spokesman for Sen. Jerry Moran (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 Warner (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 Wicker (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 Schatz (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 Thune (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.

Tags Brian Schatz Jerry Moran John Thune Maria Cantwell Mark Warner Roger Wicker
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