Facebook gave 60 device makers "deep access" to user data

05 June, 2018, 05:02 | Author: Shannon Newton
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress in early April.                  Xinhua News Agency  Getty

In April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had admitted making a "huge mistake" as personal data of up to 87 million users may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. In response to the report, The New York Times noted that Apple stopped accessing Facebook data since last September, BlackBerry didn't collect or mine Facebook data, and Microsoft simply used data to serve notifications and add friends contacts but didn't store any user data; only Samsung declined to comment. Furthermore, the strong partition present on BlackBerry handsets along with the comprehensive permission model and app isolation techniques we employ would prevent any unauthorized access to our user's private data.

But the new revelations could spell new trouble for Facebook, which is already facing an investigation from the Federal Trade Commission over potential violations of a consent decree the two organizations signed in 2011.

The 2011 decree prohibits the company from giving third party companies access to user data without their explicit permission. Archibong also pointed out Facebook's agreements with the companies were created to prevent misuse, and the company knew of none. As such, it offered APIs to allow device-makers to "recreate Facebook-like experiences of their individual devices or operating systems".

The data included information such as relationship status, religion, political affiliation and planned events.

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In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook's app clean-up may end up being more hard than we think.

The report says that the company hasn't only been sharing user data with their device makers but also their friends', as well.

The post goes on to say that the partners signed agreements that prevented people's information from being used for any other goal than to recreated Facebook-like experiences, which had to be approved by Facebook's engineering teams. Facebook's rebuttal in the Times article and in a blog post dodges the obvious questions about the scope of Facebook's data-sharing arrangements with outside companies.

It's worth noting that a Blackberry representative told the New York Times that more recent Blackberry devices, running Android, do not use the same private channels.

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What does this have to do with Cambridge Analytica?

Elizabeth Denham, the head of the Information Commissioner's Office, said that her organisation's forthcoming report into the use of personal data for political purposes "will change the behaviour and compliance of all of the actors in the political campaigning space". You could adjust your settings to bar all outside apps from retrieving your data, but some device makers, including BlackBerry, can override even that restriction.

Apple, for instance, said it has worked with Facebook for years to let its users share things on Facebook through iPhone and Mac apps.

Meanwhile, Facebook said it started winding down the partnerships in April, as they were no longer needed to serve users. "Consumers have the right to know how their personal information is being used, and the companies we trust with our information have a critical responsibility to protect it", Underwood said in a statement.

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