Facebook threatened to pull investment projects from Canada if lobbying demands were not met.
Sandberg told government officials from the European Union and Canada that if she did not receive certain reassurances then Facebook would consider other “options” for investment and growth, read court documents seen by the press.
The documents show a global lobbying operation being carried out by Facebook targeting legislators around the world in countries including the U.K., United States, Canada, India, and Brazil.
In Canada, the social media giant threatened to withhold investment and job creation opportunities unless the government adopted data policies that favoured Facebook.
Facebook plans to invest in the construction of a data centre in Canada. Sandberg wanted Canada’s former minister of industry Christian Paradis to give assurances that the construction of the data centre in Canada won’t be used to extend its government’s legal jurisdiction over nan-Canadian data held by the company.
“They were trying to get Canada to give them what they called a letter of comfort which would take a Canadian data centre out of Canadian regulation,” Duncan Campbell, a U.K.-based freelance investigative journalist who helped uncover the story, said.
“So they said, you know, ‘if you guys want our data centre you have to make special laws that we are uncovered by a normal Canadian privacy standards.'”
Canada reportedly gave Sandberg the written reassurance she sought the same day.
A spokesperson for Facebook, however, told Business Insider “this is not a threat.” The company was simply doing the necessary due diligence needed to protect its users’ data.
“Before we commit to opening a data centre anywhere in the world, we want to make sure we fully understand the country’s laws and privacy protections. This is not a threat to withhold investment, but part of our duty to protect people’s data,” an official said.