Facebook Served Up User Data To Chinese Firms… One Of Whom Was Flagged By Feds

Facebook is back in the news for all the wrong reasons via this New York Times story where the firm has been accused of handing over user data to four Chinese firms. Including one flagged for being a national security threat:

Facebook has data-sharing partnerships with at least four Chinese electronics companies, including a manufacturing giant that has a close relationship with China’s government, the social media company said on Tuesday.

The agreements, which date to at least 2010, gave private access to some user data to Huawei, a telecommunications equipment company that has been flagged by American intelligence officials as a national security threat, as well as to Lenovo, Oppo and TCL.

The four partnerships remain in effect, but Facebook officials said in an interview that the company would wind down the Huawei deal by the end of the week.

This is on top of data sharing agreements that the New York Times found out about earlier this week. But in any case, this seems troubling to me and I hope people in power ask questions about this.

Oh wait. They are:

Senator John Thune, the South Dakota Republican who leads the Commerce Committee, has demanded that Facebook provide Congress with details about its data partnerships. “Facebook is learning hard lessons that meaningful transparency is a high standard to meet,” Mr. Thune said.

His committee also oversees the Federal Trade Commission, which is investigating Facebook to determine whether the company’s data policies violate a 2011 consent decree with the commission.

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia pointed out that concerns about Huawei were not new, citing a 2012 congressional report on the “close relationships between the Chinese Communist Party and equipment makers like Huawei.”

“I look forward to learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers,” said Mr. Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.

All of this really doesn’t pass the smell test and makes me think that Facebook has a lot more going on that the world needs to know about. And I suspect that given the scrutiny that the company is under, we might get those details sooner rather than later. And we may not like what we see.

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