Over the last decade, Facebook shared the private data of Facebook users with at least 60 device-making companies including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung, according to an investigation published by the New York Times.
Facebook's take on this is that the device manufacturers are "service providers" rather than third parties of the sort where consent would be needed to share information. The FTC is now investigating Facebook's privacy practices in light of the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal.
However, the FTC's former chief technologist said that the decision to override sharing restrictions was concerning.
To test what data device-makers were able to see, a Times reporter signed into his Facebook account on a 2013 BlackBerry smartphone (it was important to use a device that wasn't subject to Facebook's 2014 privacy overhaul). "The secret agreements raise serious credibility issues about recent testimony".
It said Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Amazon were among others to have struck data-sharing agreements.
Archibong went on to say that Facebook is "not aware of any abuse by these companies".
US Congressman David Cicilline, who has introduced a bill meant to curb Facebook and Google's influence in the news industry, said the Times report raises questions about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg's testimony before Congress earlier this year. Furthermore, the strong partition present on BlackBerry handsets along with the comprehensive permission model and app isolation techniques we employ would prevent any unauthorized access to our user's private data. Apple contends it did not store the data for itself.
Though not flawless, the current system of data protection does more for consumers than a model of data ownership because it ensures that individuals will always have rights over their data.
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Although Facebook reportedly began to end these partnerships this past April, a lot of them are still alive to this very day. It has been confirmed that Facebook user data was stored on the technology companies' servers. In response, Facebook said the article's central allegation that the partnerships allowed unauthorized access to users' friends data is wrong.
It's potentially a very big problem for Facebook. "You shouldn't be able to lie to people".
A similar practice involving third-party apps on Facebook landed CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg before Congress during the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Denham was giving evidence to the European parliament alongside Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie, Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr, former Facebook employee Sandy Parakilas, and U.S. professor David Carroll.
However, she warned that misuse of data was widespread across the internet and was not confined to the Facebook platform or this particular case. Frank Pallone, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a statement. "I'm extremely concerned that we are just now learning that even more personal user data was provided without consent", she said.
Legally, Facebook's fate may rest on a few key phrases.
But the Times said that the user permissions were not always explicit as required by the 2011 consent decree with the FTC. The agreement defines "third party" to include a whole host of other individual entities, potentially like advertisers or app-makers.