Facebook’s Data Deals Are Under Criminal Investigation

Screen-Shot-2019-03-13-at-7.49.35-PM-300x164.png?profile=RESIZE_710x

Facebook’s Data Deals Are Under Criminal Investigation

Michael LaForgia, Matthew Rosenberg and Gabriel J.X. Dance, New York Times, March 13, 2019

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/13/technology/facebook-data-deals-investigation.html

Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals Facebook struck with some of the world’s largest technology companies, intensifying scrutiny of the social media giant’s business practices as it seeks to rebound from a year of scandal and setbacks.

A grand jury in New York has subpoenaed records from at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices, according to two people who were familiar with the requests and who insisted on anonymity to discuss confidential legal matters. Both companies had entered into partnerships with Facebook, gaining broad access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of its users.

The companies were among more than 150, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Sony, that had cut sharing deals with the world’s dominant social media platform. The agreements, previously reported in The New York Times, let the companies see users’ friends, contact information and other data, sometimes without consent. Facebook has phased out most of the partnerships over the past two years.

“We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.”

[Read Brian Chen’s story on what he found when he downloaded his Facebook data.]

It is not clear when the grand jury inquiry, overseen by prosecutors with the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, began or exactly what it is focusing on. Facebook was already facing scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission. And the Justice Department’s securities fraud unit began investigating it after reports that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, had improperly obtained the Facebook data of 87 million people and used it to build tools that helped President Trump’s election campaign.

The Justice Department and the Eastern District declined to comment for this article.

The Cambridge investigation, still active, is being run by prosecutors from the Northern District of California. One former Cambridge employee said investigators questioned him as recently as late February. He and three other witnesses in the case, speaking on the condition of anonymity so they would not anger prosecutors, said a significant line of inquiry involved Facebook’s claims that it was misled by Cambridge.

Read more on the 5 ways Facebook shared your data.]

In public statements, Facebook executives had said that Cambridge told the company it was gathering data only for academic purposes. But the fine print accompanying a quiz app that collected the information said it could also be used commercially. Selling user data would have violated Facebook’s rules at the time, yet the social network does not appear to have regularly checked that apps were complying. Facebook deleted the quiz app in December 2015.

The disclosures about Cambridge last year thrust Facebook into the worst crisis of its history. Then came news reports last June and December that Facebook had given business partners — including makers of smartphones, tablets and other devices — deep access to users’ personal information, letting some companies effectively override users’ privacy settings.

The sharing deals empowered Microsoft’s Bing search engine to map out the friends of virtually all Facebook users without their explicit consent, and allowed Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends. Apple was able to hide from Facebook users all indicators that its devices were even asking for data.

Privacy advocates said the partnerships seemed to violate a 2011 consent agreement between Facebook and the F.T.C., stemming from allegations that the company had shared data in ways that deceived consumers. The deals also appeared to contradict statements by Mark Zuckerberg and other executives that Facebook had clamped down several years ago on sharing the data of users’ friends with outside developers.

F.T.C. officials, who spent the past year investigating whether Facebook violated the 2011 agreement, are now weighing the sharing deals as they negotiate a possible multibillion-dollar fine. That would be the largest such penalty ever imposed by the trade regulator.

Facebook has aggressively defended the partnerships, saying they were permitted under a provision in the F.T.C. agreement that covered service providers — companies that acted as extensions of the social network.

The company has taken steps in the past year to tackle data misuse and misinformation. Last week, Mr. Zuckerberg unveiled a plan that would begin to pivot Facebook away from being a platform for public sharing and put more emphasis on private communications.

Nicholas Confessore, Alan Feuer and Rebecca R. Ruiz contributed reporting.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of Ashtar Command - Spiritual Community to add comments!

Join Ashtar Command - Spiritual Community

Comments

  • Good article Amp, this is one of the reasons I very rarely use FB myself, I only answer my relatives, (they will not, and continue not to listen.) I know how Evil FB can be, and they are still Data Mining everyone's information for a profit!   Remember, if you chose to use FB, your life is an open Book to all Company's and their people, period.

  • Dear amparo,

    Thanks for information.

    I knew a little bit of this venture...

    Sohini

This reply was deleted.

Copyright Policy: Always Include 30-50% of the source material and a link to the original article. You may not post, modify, distribute, or reproduce in any way any copyrighted material, trademarks, or other proprietary information belonging to others without obtaining the prior written consent of the owner of such proprietary rights. If you believe that someone's work has been copied and posted on Ashtar Command in a way that constitutes copyright infringement, please Contact Us and include the links to these pages and relevant info. 

Latest Activity

Roaring Lovely left a comment on Comment Wall
"From Biologicall perspective
(Which is the perspective I was considering), rather than 'ethical' perspective, 'harm' depends on the point of view. A lion can be seen as 'harming' the antelope or as doing something that is good for the ecosystem as…"
32 minutes ago
SpiralSoulCiendRa liked rev.joshua skirvin's blog post Sex and Spirituality & Galactic Council of Light: Higher Realms of Light
46 minutes ago
SpiralSoulCiendRa liked rev.joshua skirvin's blog post Love I am; by rev. joshua skirvin
1 hour ago
SpiralSoulCiendRa liked Universal Lighthouse's blog post Admiral Richard E. Byrd's My Secret Diary -The Inner Earth - Read By Chellea
1 hour ago
𝒮𝒜𝒩 不滅 left a comment on Comment Wall
"Quote from RL:
“So man is a vermin, a parasite! I know we'd like to think of ourselves as something more valuable. But parasite fits the definition perfectly!”

A parasite is an animal or plant organism that takes its food from another organism.…"
2 hours ago
Drekx Omega liked rev.joshua skirvin's blog post Sex and Spirituality & Galactic Council of Light: Higher Realms of Light
5 hours ago
Drekx Omega commented on rev.joshua skirvin's blog post Sex and Spirituality & Galactic Council of Light: Higher Realms of Light
"This concept of shame about sexuality neither exists among fully conscious cosmic peoples, nor among ancient Earth civilisations, that predate the Hebrews...It's origins stem from the time of Moses and the 40-year desert living of the Hebrews, when…"
5 hours ago
rev.joshua skirvin posted a blog post
 Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for sexual union to be experienced only with one’s spouse for the purposes of procreation and the expression of love.One result of this teaching: Millions of people believe that sex may absolutely…
5 hours ago
More…