Facebook disputes report it grants phone makers deep data access

Senators press Facebook amid new questions on data-sharing practices

Greg Nash

"This limitless data sharing of users has to stop", Verhofstadt said.

"Sure looks like Zuckerberg lied to Congress about whether users have "complete control" over who sees our data on Facebook", Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) tweeted on Sunday.

The paper reported that Facebook shared users' personal information with at least 60 smartphone firms, allowing them to access users' friends' data without obtaining explicit consent. (D-NJ) meanwhile called for the Federal Trade Commission to review whether Facebook had violated its 2011 consent decree with the agency.

"Contrary to claims by the New York Times, friends' information, like photos, was only accessible on devices when people made a decision to share their information with those friends".

"These contracts and partnerships are entirely consistent with Facebook's FTC consent decree", Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of Product Partnerships, in a statement.

Facebook said Monday that it does not know of any privacy abuse by cellphone makers who years ago were able to gain access to personal data on users and their friends.

Late last month, he testified before European Union lawmakers and apologized for the way Facebook has been used to produce fake news, interfere in elections and gather people's personal information. A response that is really par for the course for BlackBerry and as noted, the data was not used in the same manner as Cambridge Analytica.

The firestorm erupted in March when it emerged that Cambridge Analytica, a consulting firm with ties to President Donald Trump's campaign, gained improper accessto tens of millions of Facebook users' data.

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Facebook, however, hasn't fully explained why these deals were still in place as of this year, and it's unclear whether they would have been wound down were it not for the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Similar to how the company initially reacts every time such a story breaks, Facebook is disputing these claims this time too.

The issue here is not that a Facebook user can access data about friends and friends-of-friends-it's that they're giving a non-Facebook company's software access to that information.

Archibong says the APIs were created to fill a demand for mobile Facebook which the company couldn't fulfill alone, and were thus necessary. In exchange, Facebook gave them nearly unrestricted access to users' data as well as their friends'.

As an example, Microsoft entered a partnership with Facebook in 2008 that enabled users of Microsoft products to add contacts and friends and receive notifications via Facebook.

This would mean that the likes of Apple and Samsung have had potential access to user data for some time.

The reporter discovered that one Blackberry app was able to acquire "identifying information" for up to 295,000 Facebook users. "Our partnership and engineering teams approved the Facebook experiences these companies built", he added. Now, with nearly all smartphone users having access to a fully-featured Facebook app, the partnerships' reason for existing is moot.

Facebook has responded to a New York Times story that raises privacy concerns about the company's device-integrated APIs, saying that it "disagree [s] with the issues they've raised about these APIs".

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