When will Facebook’s CEO understand the meaning of privacy?
As if the experience of Cambridge Analytica hearing wasn’t enough, Facebook is involved in another scandal of data sharing. On Tuesday, Facebook confirmed that it has been sharing users’ private data with Chinese well-known companies including Huawei, one of the largest phone-makers in the world. Moreover, the agreement came under the attention of the U.S. intelligence agencies, and this time just apology from the Facebook CEO, Mark will not be enough.
Facebook recently confirmed that it has agreed to share users’ data with several Chinese companies, including Huawei, the computer-makers Lenovo, and camera phone makers OPPO. Moreover, it is suspected that there are about 60 companies worldwide that have signed contracts with Facebook to access users’ data. Apparently, the deal was made by the aforementioned companies to mimic or recreate Facebook-like experience for their users. However, the U.S. government is not happy with such data sharing contracts as users had no idea regarding such third-party use. The New York Times reported the practice on Sunday, claiming that the Facebook has been treading users’ data with Chinese companies without their explicit consent or knowledge. Zuckerberg had the obvious reaction: absolute denial!
According to Zuckerberg, the data access was to allow users to access account features on their smartphones. Moreover, more than half of the agreements have been wound down, and Huawei agreement will end later this week. The matters became worse when Chinese telecommunication companies came under the radar of U.S. government, who debated–despite of China’s refusal– that these companies provide opportunities for international espionage and threaten the security of public information.
Concerns of the U.S. government about Huawei are not new. Since 2012, government publicly stated the alleged relationship between Huawei and Chinese Communist Party. U.S. Senator Mark Warner said, “The New York Time’s revelations regarding the special access to Facebook’s API to Chinese phone-making companies such as TCL and Huawei raise legitimate questions and I hope to learn more about how Facebook made sure that such information was not sent to Chinese servers.”
Francisco Varela, the vice president of mobile partnerships for Facebook, stated, “Facebook along with many other U.S. tech companies have worked with them and other Chinese manufacturers to integrate their services onto these phones. Facebook’s integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, OPPO and TCL were controlled from the get-go — and we approved the Facebook experiences these companies built.”
The Senate Commerce Committee addressed a letter to Zuckerberg to get explanation regarding its decade-old partnership with dozens of mobile manufacturing companies and how they ensured the security of such huge amount of personal data. The News York Times reports the tie-ups date back at least 2010. However, Facebook has disputed such accusation, claiming these integrations are very different from our public APIs. API or application program interface specializes in how software components should interact with each other, and according to Facebook, sharing of APIs is tightly monitored. Moreover, Facebook agrees to answer any queries of the Commerce Committee. However, at the time of the hearing of Cambridge Analytica, Zuckerberg promised to answer hundreds of written questions submitted by the members of Congress but failed to do so. Therefore, let’s wait to see what Zuckerberg promises this time to get out of this bundle.