Criminal investigation into Facebook deals with Apple, Amazon, Microsoft

14 Mars, 2019, 06:39 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses while testifying before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress in April 2018.

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. According to the report, which was published in December, "Facebook allowed Microsoft's Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users' friends without consent. and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users' private messages". At the time, the company strongly disputed that these data partnerships violated users' privacy or the company's 2012 settlement with the FTC.

Following the report in the New York Times previous year, 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". The Department of Justice began probing the Silicon Valley company after a report showed Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, used the platform to improperly obtained data on 87 million people to help President Donald Trump's campaign.

Federal prosecutors are investigating data-sharing deals struck between Facebook and makers of mobile computing devices. That revelation prompted a backlash that raised questions about whether Facebook can be trusted to protect the personal information of its 2 billion users.

Facebook confirmed the investigations in a statement.

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The exact focus of the investigation, however, remains unknown.

The data sharing deals were reported by the New York Times in June and December of past year. Facebook stated that it is cooperating with investigators. "We've provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so".

As if to underscore the company's challenges, Facebook's social network suffered one of the worst technical outages in its history on Wednesday, leaving users and advertisers unable to access the site for much of the day.

Facebook responded by noting that other federal investigations are reportedly underway.

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