Facebook gave Apple, Microsoft and, er, BlackBerry 'deep access' to user data

Tuesday, 05 Jun, 2018

Facebook prohibited tech developers from accessing the data of users' friends after discovering the Cambridge Analytica breach in 2015, but the makers of cell phones and other devices were not subject to the restriction.

A top congressional Democrat slammed Facebook over a report alleging the company shared its users' personal data with a range of devicemakers. It then could access info on 294,258 friends of his friends. The FTC is now investigating Facebook's privacy practices in light of the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal.

Apple, on the other hand, said it stopped giving its iPhones that access since September 2017.

Facebook denied any wrongdoing in a statement posted on its website in response to The New York Times story that revealed the existence of data-sharing agreements with numerous companies.

In interviews to NYT, Facebook defended its data-sharing agreement and asserted that these are consistent with its privacy policies, the FTC agreement and pledges to users.

The FTC declined to comment. Through a combination of legal agreements and software, Facebook "allowed companies to recreate Facebook-like experiences for their individual devices or operating systems", the social giant acknowledged in a blog post Monday. The reporters found that the app not only accessed extensive information about the reporter's profile, it got ahold of similar data from his friends, and from friends of friends, too.

We've asked Facebook about the letter. These partnerships were put in place starting in 2007, with the objective of giving device manufacturers access to Facebook features, while simultaneously spreading the use of Facebook into the mobile sphere.

Facebook announced in April that it was winding down access to the device-integrated APIs because fewer people rely on them today.

Facebook, however, hasn't fully explained why these deals were still in place as of this year, and it's unclear whether they would have been wound down were it not for the Cambridge Analytica scandal. A Microsoft representative said the company started working with Facebook in 2008 but said no data was synced with Microsoft servers as it was stored locally on the phones powered by Microsoft.

Britain's chief data regulator has said the online political advertising industry will be forced to reform for good as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

"Facebook and other data collectors, including these device manufacturers, should be prepared to come before Congress so that we can get a better grasp of the entire data collection ecosystem", New Jersey Rep. And while some of the decade-old agreements may still be in effect, they're not as useful nowadays when Facebook directly creates and controls the apps that go onto your smartphone.

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". The Commission confirmed earlier this year it was conducting a non-public investigation into the company following Cambridge Analytica.