Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Facebook accused of sharing your personal data with OEMs

Apple was among the companies that used device-integrated APIs to serve up a version of Facebook on its hardware but the deals are now under scrutiny Facebook partnerships with certain device makers allowed them access to personal data without permission
Pete Mitchell | 06 June, 2018, 00:49

In interviews to The New York Times, Facebook however defended its data sharing agreement and asserted that these are consistent with its privacy policies, the FTC agreement and pledges to users.

Warner and a slew of other politicians have said that they're concerned about the potential for Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE to give the Chinese government backdoor access into the data about Americans using their devices.

New York Times says Facebook has had data-sharing partnerships with at least sixty device makers, including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung over the last decade. Facebook's explanation that it had to work closely with device makers when feature phones were the norm makes sense, and the Times story doesn't do anything to counter it.

The Times' investigation reportedly found that since around 2007, dozens of tech and device-maker companies were granted broad access to collect data on Facebook users and their online "friends", including friends who had denied Facebook permission to share information with third parties. Not that this is likely to satisfy Blumenthal and Markey - there's no guarantee they'll take action, but they clearly want more explicit promises of privacy than Facebook has offered so far.

Parakilas told the Financial Times that while Facebook said it had blocked apps from acquiring the data held by app users' friends, "in the case of hardware manufacturers they didn't do that".

Some device makers, according to the Times, could get personal information from those friends even though they were under the impression that they had barred any sharing if their data.

While the reporter appeared to have willingly given access to his Facebook data, the fact that the responses from his friends look to have been sucked up by BlackBerry's software is worrying, as the reporter's friends may not have agreed to such data syphoning by a non-Facebook service.

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Among other controls, Archibong insists that Facebook made partners sign agreements that prevented user information from being exploited.

The agreements that Facebook entered raise "concerns about the company's privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree" with the Federal Trade Commission, the NYT report said.

According to the Washington Post, "Vladeck said additional penalties could include a court-ordered monitor of Facebook's business practices, injunctions against particular ways of using of consumers' data or heightened monitoring by the FTC".

The agreements required the third-party companies to use the information only for the intended objective of integrating features into users' devices, Facebook says. "Given that these APIs enabled other companies to recreate the Facebook experience, we controlled them tightly from the get-go".

Just when the world seemed to be forgetting Cambridge Analytica, Facebook might have another major privacy scandal on its hands.

Chinese telecommunications companies have come under scrutiny from US intelligence officials who argue they provide an opportunity for foreign espionage and threaten critical USA infrastructure, something the Chinese have consistently denied. He confirmed the use of the data-sharing agreements with about 60 companies - including Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, HTC, Microsoft, and Samsung - which were used to allow users to access Facebook before there were app stores and standard operating systems.

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