Utah’s Reyes among 9 attorneys general in meeting to discuss social media privacy

Stock image, St. George News

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (AP) — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes was part of a meeting Tuesday between top state law enforcement officials and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions about how the government can safeguard the privacy of social media users. However, the meeting ended without a decision on whether to investigate.

The gathering at the Justice Department was scheduled to discuss whether tech giants are “stifling the free exchange of ideas” and examine whether they “may be hurting competition.”

But California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, said the one-hour meeting mainly focused on consumer protection and data privacy issues.

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Despite the lack of resolution, Reyes said in a statement that the meeting was a “critical, ongoing dialogue on protecting consumers and competition in the technology sector without unnecessarily burdening innovation or investment” and said it was both nonpartisan and productive.

“Utah is a rapidly expanding innovation hub,” Reyes said in the statement. “As such, consumer protection, privacy, and a level playing field in the tech ecosystem are of utmost concern to me and the Utah AG Office.”

In addition to Reyes, attorneys general from Alabama, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee and Washington, D.C., attended. Five other states sent senior deputies.

Justice Department officials said the meeting “centered on ways the Department and state governments can most effectively safeguard consumers using online digital platforms.”

Although there wasn’t an immediate decision on whether to open an investigation, the attorneys general discussed the nuances and interpretation of privacy and what might constitute a monopoly in the tech sector, Becerra said.

“The conversation really zeroed in on privacy,” he said after the meeting. “I think everyone sees the growth of the industry as something that has become of interest to regulators and enforcers. How it might apply, that is still the open question.”

The statement from Reyes seemed to concur.

“We agreed that at the federal and state level, we are both seeking robust protection of consumers and markets through responsible regulation and disciplined enforcement,” Reyes said.

The Justice Department said it will review the “insight” shared by the attorneys general and expects conversations on the topic to continue.

Written by MICHAEL BALSAMO, Associated Press.

St. George News contributed to this report.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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