Zuckerberg to meet with European Union regulator

Aoife White
Bloomberg News

Facebook Inc. co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is set to meet with one of the European Union’s leading regulators this week amid calls on both sides of the Atlantic for more oversight of digital privacy.

Zuckerberg last week testified to the U.S. Congress in the wake of revelations that millions of Facebook users’ private information fell into the hands of British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. He is scheduled to see European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip during a two-day trip to San Francisco starting Tuesday, the EU authority said.

While the two men have met informally before — with Ansip tweeting a picture from Barcelona in February 2016 — it’s the first time Ansip, whose brief covers the digital single market, or any EU commissioner has reported a meeting with Zuckerberg in their online calendars.

Facebook shares were up 0.3 percent to $165.08 at 12:20 p.m. in New York. They have fallen about 11 percent since the Cambridge Analytica scandal erupted last month.

Zuckerberg has been called to appear in the European Parliament to explain how Facebook data of as many as 2.7 million Europeans could have been passed to Cambridge Analytica. Facebook has said he will not appear. Separately, the EU commission is planning to unveil new legislation next week to set rules for how they deal with business users, part of a wave of new rules across Europe that seek to curb big internet firms, most of them American.

Facebook has usually relied on Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to talk to EU officials. She met with Ansip, EU privacy chief Vera Jourova and EU digital commissioner Mariya Gabriel in Brussels in January, following Silicon Valley meetings with Jourova in September and Dimitris Avramopoulos, who handles EU security, in March. Sandberg also met Ansip in Brussels in June 2015 and EU Vice-President Frans Timmermans in Davos in January 2015.

The Brussels-based commission said Ansip would also meet with Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai, Twitter General Counsel Sean Edgett and Netflix General Counsel David Hyman in individual meetings to talk about data protection, online privacy, illegal content, disinformation campaigns, digital copyright and artificial intelligence.

Facebook said it had “nothing to share on the details of the meeting” and it often hosts politicians at its head office to discuss a range of subjects.

Zuckerberg last week spent about 10 hours in front of Congress over the course of two days, answering questions about how Facebook handles content and users’ privacy, resulting in calls by some lawmakers for new regulation of social media.