Facebook probed over data-sharing deals with world’s biggest tech firms

Erika Holt
March 15, 2019

Facebook said in a statement to the New York Times that it is cooperating with investigators.

The Times report emerged on the same day that Facebook saw widespread outages on its apps, including Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.

The Times reports that it is not clear when the inquiry began or exactly what it is focusing on.

The criminal investigation adds to a laundry list of probes since the Cambridge Analytica revelations one year ago placed a spotlight on the company's data and privacy practices. Each of these companies had struck agreements with Facebook that allowed them to access users' personal information. 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.

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The Times reports that a NY grand jury subpoenaed two unidentified smartphone makers who are involved in data partnerships with Facebook allowing them access to the social network's two billion users. Facebook said in July it had received questions from USA agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI, and was cooperating.

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

The Justice Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. A grand jury investigation is "serious" and suggests the company as a long way to go to regain the trust of users after two years of privacy and security-related scandals, CNBC said.

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