Facebook's Sandberg meets with senators as U.S. data privacy fine looms

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(Bloomberg) --Facebook Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is meeting with Senators on Capitol Hill Tuesday as the social-media company nears a record privacy settlement with U.S. regulators that could cost up to $5 billion.

Sandberg is in Washington for long-planned meetings on the Hill and with civil rights groups, and isn’t discussing the company’s pending privacy settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, according to a Facebook spokesperson.

Sandberg met with Republican Senator Roger Wicker from Mississippi, who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee. Wicker said in an interview that they discussed the committee’s effort to draft federal privacy legislation.

Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas said he also plans to meet with the Facebook executive. Moran is also working on the push for national privacy legislation, which could restrict the collection and use of consumer data by technology companies.

Moran also sits on the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the FTC. Facebook has said that the agreement, which is still being finalized, could cost between $3 billion and $5 billion. The accord could also elevate privacy oversight to Facebook’s board of directors.

Sandberg was also set to meet with Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, according to Warner’s office.

The pending FTC settlement has come under fire among lawmakers and privacy advocates. On Monday, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri said that the estimated sum would represent a "bargain." They pushed for long-term limits on Facebook’s collection and use of personal information.

FTC Chairman Joe Simons, who is testifying on the Hill Tuesday, declined to comment on whether he is meeting with Sandberg.

Bloomberg News