Facebook is reportedly under criminal investigation over deals that gave Apple, Amazon, and other companies access to user data (FB)

MarkZuckerberg2016

  • Facebook is
    under criminal investigation over data-sharing deals it signed with
    Apple,
    Amazon, and
    other major tech companies, reports the New York
    Times. 
  • The partnerships, first reported in June, gave those
    outside companies to data including friends lists, contact
    information, and even private messages — and not always with the
    user’s consent.
  • Most of those partnerships have ended over the last two
    years. 
  • Facebook tells the Times that it is cooperating with
    investigators.

Federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into
data-sharing deals struck between Facebook and makers of mobile
computing devices like smartphones and tablets,
reports the New York Times

Under the terms of those deals, which the
Times reported about in June
, Facebook allowed device makers
including Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft to access personal user
data, including friend lists, contact information, and sometimes
even private messages — and not always with the user’s consent,
the report alleged. 

According to the New York Times report, a grand jury in New York
has already subpoenaed information on these types of deals from at
least two smartphone and other device manufacturers involved. 

“We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes
seriously,” a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider.
“We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and
pledged that we will continue to do so.”

News of the criminal investigation is the latest in a series of
controversies surrounding the 2-billion member social networking
giant. 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.

Facebook’s stock declined 1.5% in after hours trading on
Wednesday. 

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. 

Focus of the criminal inquiry is unknown

Facebook is already facing the prospect of
multi-billion dollar fines to settle privacy investigations
by
the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies. But a criminal
investigation would raise the stakes significantly.

Wednesday’s Times report, which cited anonymous sources, said it
was not clear what exactly the grand jury inquiry  overseen by
federal prosecutors is focused on, or when it began.

In December, following the Times report, Facebook
said in a blog entry
that these partnerships were necessary to
enable certain social features in outside apps, like logging into a
Facebook account from a Windows phone, or sharing what Spotify song
you were listening to via Facebook Messenger. 

“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.

Most of those partnerships have ended over the last several
years. 

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

SEE ALSO: Facebook
and Instagram go down for hours in major outage — and it says
it’s not being DDoS attacked


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Facebook is reportedly under criminal investigation over deals that gave Apple, Amazon, and other companies access to user data (FB)