March 19, 2019

Facebook's data-sharing deals reportedly under criminal probe

14 March 2019, 08:50 | Devin Moran

Facebook under criminal investigation over data sharing with tech firms - report

Report Facebook Under Criminal Investigation

A New York grand jury has subpoenaed evidence from cell phone manufacturers as part of a federal criminal investigation of Facebook's data-sharing deals with other tech companies, according to a new report from the New York Times. Both companies entered into large and complex data deals with Facebook, allowing all the firms involved in the partnership to collect vast troves of information on millions of users.

Facebook is already facing the prospect of multi-billion dollar fines to settle privacy investigations.

"We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously", a Facebook spokesman told TheNYT in a press statement.

News of the criminal investigation is the latest in a series of controversies surrounding the two billion-member social networking giant.

The social network's arrangements allowed Netflix and Spotify to read Facebook users' private messages, the Times reported, citing internal documents. 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 data sharing deals were reported by the New York Times in June and December of previous year.

In addition to looking at the data deals, the probes focus on disclosures that the company shared the user data of 87 million people with Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting firm that worked with US President Donald Trump's campaign.

Facebook is facing a slew of lawsuits and regulatory inquiries over its privacy practices, including ongoing investigations by the US Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and 2 state agencies in NY.

"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.

The United States Department of Justice declined to comment on the report.

"This episode has clearly hurt us", Facebook CEO Zuckerberg told Congress past year while speaking about the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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