Senators want to know how Facebook shares data with device makers

NY Times Facebook made deals with Apple Samsung and others allowing them access to personal data

While this sounds relatively harmless, Facebook has now been caught giving Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Blackberry and at least 56 other manufacturers "deep access" to each user and their friends without consent.

In addition, it said, its research showed that some device makers "could retrieve personal information even from users' friends who believed they had barred any sharing". The reporter discovered that one Blackberry app was able to acquire "identifying information" for up to 295,000 Facebook users. It also gathered "identifying information for almost 295,000 Facebook users" by retrieving data on second-degree contacts, the newspaper said.

However, Facebook blasted back at the Times report, saying the newspaper has misinterpreted the goal and function of its so-called "device-integrated APIs" - the software that allows hardware companies to bridge into Facebook's database to offer versions of the app on their operating systems.

Facebook said that firms such as Apple did not abuse the access to information.

This means that the software of companies including Apple, Amazon, Samsung, Microsoft and BlackBerry gets to plug into Facebook's systems and access data that does not belong to the specific person who's using that software.

Firstly, it may violate the "consent decree" deal that Facebook struck with the FTC in 2011.

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BlackBerry has always been in the business of protecting, not monetizing, customer data.

Unlike developers that provide games and services to Facebook users, the device partners can use Facebook data only to provide versions of "the Facebook experience", the officials were quoted as saying. Still, Monday's announcements are another step in a brewing spat with Facebook over privacy and data collection.

Apple said it has stopped using the APIs and that it used them to allow users to post pictures and other information without having to open the Facebook app. Why did the company wait until April of this year - years after it first learned of what Cambridge Analytica was doing - to start dismantling these contracts? "I would never have imagined that this might even be happening secretly via deals with device makers".

"Contrary to claims by the New York Times, friends' information, like photos was only accessible on devices when people made a decision to share their information with those friends", the statement said.

"Over and over Facebook has proven itself unworthy of user's trust". In its event today, Apple has said it will make it "dramatically more difficult" for companies like Facebook to track individual users. However, most of the partnerships still remain in effect, the NYT reports.

Speaking at the tech giant's Worldwide Developer's Conference overnight, software engineering senior vice-president Craig Federighi said users would benefit from improved privacy features when iOS 12 and MacOS Mojave are released later this year.

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