Weeks after the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, Facebook has admitted to sharing users’s data, with its Chinese partners.
Following Facebook Inc’s disclosure that it had shared data with its Chinese partners, which includes Huawei, the social media giant has come under scrutiny by U.S. intelligence agencies on security concerns.
Facebook said, Huawei, OPPO, the Lenovo Group and TCL Corp were among about 60 companies worldwide that “received access to some user data after they signed contracts to re-create Facebook-like experiences for their users”.
On Sunday, following a report by the NY Times that FB has shares users’ data with its Chinese partners without their explicit consent, members of the U.S. Congress voiced their concerns.
Denying that, FB said it had allowed access to its data to its Chinese parts to allow them to recreate a FB like experience for their users. Furthermore, more than 50% of such partnerships have been shutdown, said Facebook.
On Tuesday, Facebook said it would end its agreement with Huawei later this week. It will also end its partnership with 3 other Chinese firms.
According to U.S. intelligence officials Chinese telecommunications companies pose a critical threat to U.S. infrastructure. The Chinese have consistently denied this claim.
“The news that Facebook provided privileged access to Facebook’s API to Chinese device makers like Huawei and TCL raises legitimate concerns, and I look forward to learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers,” said Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee’s concerns on Huawei date back to 2012.
“Facebook along with many other U.S. tech companies have worked with them and other Chinese manufacturers to integrate their services onto these phones,” said Francisco Varela, vice president of mobile partnerships for Facebook, in a statement. “Facebook’s integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, OPPO and TCL were controlled from the get-go — and we approved the Facebook experiences these companies built.”
Varela added that “given the interest from Congress, we wanted to make clear that all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei’s servers.”
On Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee demanded that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive officer, respond to the above mentioned report that it shared users’ data without their explicit consent with at least 60 device manufacturers; to make matters worse, FB shared the data with its Chinese partners weeks after it said it would change its practices of data sharing following the debacle with the now-defunct political data firm, Cambridge Analytica.
As per the NY Times report, Chinese manufacturers were able to access users’ data despite the fact that FB users specifically told it not to share the information with third parties.
In April, the FCC proposed new rules wherein companies that pose a threat to U.S. telecom networks would be barred from government purchasing programs. The move was aimed at China’s second biggest telecommunications equipment maker ZTE, and Huawei.
In May, the Pentagon ordered all retail outlets on U.S. military bases to stop selling Huawei and ZTE phones citing potential security risks to national security.
According to members of the congressional staff, Facebook has still to answer hundreds of written questions submitted by members of the Congress following Zuckerberg’s testimony in April 2018.