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Zuckerberg meets EU officials as bloc's new tech rules loom

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met top European Union officials on a visit to Brussels on Monday, days before the bloc is expected to release new proposals on regulating artificial intelligence.

The billionaire social network founder is the latest U.S. tech executive to make the trip to the headquarters of the EU, which is becoming an increasingly important player in technology regulation.

Zuckerberg met Margrethe Vestager, the EU's powerful executive vice president in charge of making Europe “fit for the digital age.” He also had audiences with Thierry Breton, commissioner for the internal market, and Vera Jourova, vice president for values and transparency.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, right, is greeted by European Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. (AP PhotoFrancisco Seco)

Vestager is set on Wednesday to release the first draft of the EU's proposed regulations on artificial intelligence, including facial recognition, and a digital strategy, which could have major implications for tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Apple.

The EU has already pioneered strict data privacy rules and issued multibillion-dollar antitrust fines against the likes of Google.

In an op-ed published in the Financial Times, Zuckerberg said big tech companies such as Facebook need closer government supervision.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, center, is greeted by European Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova, left, prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. (AP PhotoFrancisco Seco)

“I believe good regulation may hurt Facebook’s business in the near term but it will be better for everyone, including us, over the long term,” he wrote. He said new rules should be clear and balanced and it shouldn't be left up to individual companies to set their own standards.

Also Monday, Facebook released a “white paper” on content regulation outlining challenges and principles for authorities to consider when drawing up new rules on how to deal with harmful material such as child sexual exploitation or terrorist recruitment.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, background left, sits during a meeting with European Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova, front second right, at EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. (AP PhotoFrancisco Seco)