Monday, 25 March, 2019


Facebook faces criminal investigation over controversial data sharing deals

Mark Zuckerberg on stage at Facebook's F8 Conference 2014 Facebook under criminal investigation over data sharing with tech firms - report
Bennie Garza | 14 March, 2019, 17:33

Facebook is under criminal investigation for a series of controversial data-sharing deals it signed with other major tech companies, according to reports.

Facebook seemed to confirm the report by telling the Times it is "cooperating" with investigators.

"It has already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, including by the Department of Justice", a Facebook representative said in a statement.

In addition to looking at the data deals, the probes focus on disclosures that the company shared the user data of 87 million people with Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting firm that worked with U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign.

Facebook had data-sharing arrangements with more than 150 companies, according to a December report in the New York Times.

Facebook's stock declined 1.5 per cent in after hours trading on Wednesday. But a criminal investigation would raise the stakes significantly.

The investigation is being overseen by United States attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York, and a grand jury has been convened, The NY Times reports that the focus of the investigation remains unclear for now.

Facebook has defended the deals. Apple, for example, was able to slurp up contact numbers and calendar entries from users who thought they'd disabled all sharing, unbeknownst to the users - though Apple maintains it had no idea Facebook had given it special access and that it removed no data from users' devices.

"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.

The investigation reportedly stems from partnerships Facebook formed with more than 100 other companies, such as Microsoft, Netflix, and Spotify.

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