Facebook Facing Criminal Investigation Into Device Data Share Deals

Marco Green
March 14, 2019

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress in April 2018.

A NY grand jury has subpoenaed records from at least two smartphone manufacturers as part of a criminal investigation into Facebook's data deals with large technology companies.

Details of the investigation are unclear, but a grand jury has subpoenaed documents from "at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices". Data shared without users' knowledge included friends' names, genders and birth dates.

"To be clear: none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people's permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC", wrote Facebook in that blog post. However, Facebook continued sharing information with 61 hardware and software makers after it said it discontinued the practice in May 2015, it said in June.

Facebook has been struggling to rehabilitate its public image amid revelations that it allowed Cambridge Analytica to improperly access the personal data of many of its users and the growing evidence of how its social network has been used to spread misinformation during the 2016 US Presidential elections. Since then, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has testified in front of Congress and the European Parliament to answer questions about Facebook's handling of user data.

The two companies are among more than 150, including Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp, that have entered into partnerships with Facebook for access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of its users, according to the report. The US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of NY declined to confirm or deny the investigation's existence. Following the report in the New York Times a year ago, the company said, "none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people's permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC". Those deals, which were previously examined by the NYT, allowed companies to access Facebook features from their own services.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"It has already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, including by the Department of Justice".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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