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Facebook under criminal investigation over data sharing with tech firms – report
Investigation by federal prosecutors adds to laundry list of inquiries since the Cambridge Analytica revelations one year ago
Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy.
Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP
Facebook is under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors examining its data-sharing deals with other major technology companies, according to the New York Times.
A New York grand jury has subpoenaed records from “at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices”, the Times reported, citing two unnamed sources.
The two companies are among more than 150, including Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, that have entered into partnerships with Facebook for access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of its users, according to the report.
“We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously,” a Facebook spokesman told the Times. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.”
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The criminal investigation adds to a laundry list of probes since the Cambridge Analytica revelations one year ago placed a spotlight on the company’s data and privacy practices. Investigations by the Federal Trade Commission, the justice department and the Securities and Exchange Commission have all been previously reported. Facebook was also sued by Washington DC in late December for allowing Cambridge Analytica to obtain personal data of users without permission.
The data sharing deals were reported by the New York Times in June and December of last year.
Facebook gave companies including Netflix, Spotify, Microsoft, Sony and Amazon the ability to access user data long after it had stopped sharing data with most third-parties, the Times revealed. At the time, the company strongly disputed that these data partnerships violated users’ privacy or the company’s 2012 settlement with the FTC.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Guardian. The company’s services have been suffering outages across the world throughout the day, with no explanation thus far.