Facebook Defends Sharing User Data With Smartphone, Tablet Makers

Facebook says it “disagrees” with the New York Times’ criticisms of its device-integrated APIs		
	Catherine Shu

   	8 hours

Facebook says it “disagrees” with the New York Times’ criticisms of its device-integrated APIs Catherine Shu @ 8 hours

Facebook allowed Apple Inc and other device makers to have "deep" access to users' personal data without their consent, according to the Times. It quotes Facebook officials as saying that the deal let device makers offer customers popular features of the social network. The Times report says device makers received users' own information, such as email addresses, phone numbers and relationship statuses, as well as data from their friends, sometimes without their explicit consent.

Zuckerberg appeared before congress in April following the revelation that Facebook had exposed data on up to 87 million users to Cambridge Analytica, a research firm that worked with the Trump campaign.

Michelle De Mooy, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology's Privacy and Data Project, told Threatpost that the incident once again undermines trust in the data ecosystem and highlights the misalignment between Facebook's understanding of reasonable data-sharing and its users' understanding.

Developers who signed up for access to the Facebook Graph API used to be able to get data on the friends of people using apps that integrated the API, provided those users had authenticated themselves via login. A Microsoft spokesperson told the Times that Facebook data was stored locally on Microsoft phones, but not synced to Microsoft's servers.

The company has since terminated 22 partnerships with device makers, he added.Shares of Facebook were down 1.8% pre-market at 6:34 am in NY on Monday, following a similar trend in Europe where it was down 2.2% at the same time in Frankfurt.Facebook is retooling its approach amid a global consumer and regulatory backlash. "Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users' friends who believed they had barred any sharing". 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. New York Times reporters Gabriel J.X. Dance, Nicholas Confessore and Michael LaForgia write that "the partnerships, whose scope has not been previously reported, raise concerns about the company's privacy protections", as well as its compliance with a consent decree it struck with the Federal Trade Commission in 2011.

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"Under the GDPR's new tools, we'll be able to use enforcement notices to require companies to delete algorithms or stop processing", said Denham. And while some of the decade-old agreements may still be in effect, they're not as useful nowadays when Facebook directly creates and controls the apps that go onto your smartphone.

Facebook already penned a blog post in response to the NYT article, but it is unclear how it will respond to this letter to Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg has recently apologised for the fact that Facebook often didn't always protect user privacy and didn't consider how its service could be misused by malicious actors until it was too late.

The social media and publishing company has data partnerships with at least 60 device companies, including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, BlackBerry and Samsung, giving them access to users' personal information.

"Partners could not integrate the user's Facebook features with their devices without the user's permission", he said.

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