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Facebook Confirms Data-sharing Agreements with Chinese Firms

Facebook confirms data sharing partnerships with Huawei & 3 other Chinese companies

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Facebook unveils new VR headset 'Oculus Quest'. Pixabay

Facebook has admitted sharing users’ data with Chinese company Huawei — facing the heat in the US over data privacy concerns — along with three other China-based smartphone makers Lenovo, OPPO and TCL.

According to a report in Financial Times on Tuesday, Francisco Varela, vice president of Mobile Partnerships at Facebook, said that many technology companies have worked with Huawei.

“Facebook’s integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, OPPO and TCL were controlled from the get-go — and we approved the Facebook experiences these companies built,” Varela said in a statement.

“Given the interest from Congress, we wanted to make clear that all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei’s servers,” the Facebook executive added.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The Facebook confirmation came a day after The New York Times reported that the social media giant provided access to users’ data to at least 60 different device makers — including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung and BlackBerry.

There are concerns in the US among the FBI, CIA, NSA, the Federal Communications Commission and House Intelligence Committee over Huawei devices.

In February, FBI Director Chris Wray said the FBI was “deeply concerned” about the risks posed by Huawei and ZTE. The US military has banned phones made by Huawei and ZTE.

According to Senator Mark Warner, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the concerns about Huawei were not new.

“The news that Facebook provided privileged access to Facebook’s API [application programming interface] to Chinese device makers like Huawei and TCL raises legitimate concerns, and I look forward to learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers,” he said in a statement late Tuesday.

“Concerns about Huawei aren’t new – they were widely publicised beginning in 2012, when the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a well-read report on the close relationships between the Chinese Communist Party and equipment makers like Huawei,” Warner added.

Facebook Confirms Data-sharing Agreements with Chinese Firms
Facebook CEO of Mark Zuckerberg (Wikimedia commons)

The Senate Commerce Committee has already sent a letter to Facebook over the reports that it shared data with device makers.

Earlier, the social network defended the pacts with device makers, saying that these partnerships do not raise privacy concerns.

Facebook said that the partners signed agreements that prevented people’s information from being used for any other purpose than to recreate Facebook-like experiences.

“Partners could not integrate the user’s Facebook features with their devices without the user’s permission,” Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Vice President of Product Partnerships, said in a statement.

Also Read: Apple Requested ‘Zero’ Personal Data In Deals With Facebook, CEO Tim Cook Says

Facebook launched the device-integrated APIs about a decade ago and said that all these partnerships were built on a common interest — the desire for people to be able to use Facebook whatever their device or operating system.

“Given that these APIs enabled other companies to recreate the Facebook experience, we controlled them tightly from the get-go,” Archibong said.

Facebook said that it had already ended 22 of the device partnerships.

“Now that iOS and Android are so popular, fewer people rely on these APIs to create bespoke Facebook experiences. It’s why we announced in April that we’re winding down access to them. We’ve already ended 22 of these partnerships,” Archibong noted. (IANS)

Next Story

Social Networking Giant Facebook Interested in Blockchain-based Authentication, Says Mark Zuckerberg

According to The Verge, the risk of further data-sharing scandals is one of the main reasons why Facebook is wary of implementing the change

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Facebook
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg. VOA

You may soon login to Facebook with Blockchain-based authentication, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has indicated.

In a public interview with Harvard Law professor Jonathan Zittrain late on Wednesday, Zuckerberg said he is “potentially interested” in putting the Facebook login on the Blockchain technology.

“I’m thinking about going back to decentralised or Blockchain authentication. Although I haven’t figured out a way to make this work out but this is around authentication and basically granting access to your information and to different services,” Mark Zuckerberg told Zittrain.

According to him, Blockchain could give users more powers when granting data access to third-party apps.

Facebook last year promoted one of its senior engineers Evan Cheng as the Director of Engineering at its recently launched Blockchain division.

Earlier in May, Facebook set up a group within the company to explore Blockchain technology and its potential use for the platform, headed by Messenger chief David Marcus.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

Media reports also said Facebook was exploring to develop its own cryptocurrency.

Facebook has over 2.3 billion users globally and launching cryptocurrency will allow them make payments using a virtual currency like Bitcoin.

In a statement, Facebook said: “Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of Blockchain technology”.

Also Read- Whatsapp Security Bug Allows iPhone Users Bypass Security Controls

According to The Verge, the risk of further data-sharing scandals is one of the main reasons why Facebook is wary of implementing the change.

“You basically take your information, you store it on some decentralised system and you have the choice of whether to log in different places and you’re not going through an intermediary. There’s a lot of things that I think would be quite attractive about that,” said Mark Zuckerberg. (IANS)