Facebook Facing Criminal Investigation Into Device Data Share Deals

Facebook is now under criminal investigation for its shady sharing of users’ data report

A grand jury subpoenaed records from two smartphone developers, The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing two anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

A grand jury in NY has subpoenaed records from at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices, the paper reported without naming them, citing two people familiar with the requests. At the time, the company strongly disputed that these data partnerships violated users' privacy or the company's 2012 settlement with the FTC.

Facebook seemed to confirm the report by telling the Times it is "cooperating" with investigators.

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. The Department of Justice began probing the Silicon Valley company after a report showed Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, used the platform to improperly obtained data on 87 million people to help President Donald Trump's campaign.

Under the terms of those deals, which the Times reported about in June, Facebook allowed device makers including Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft to access personal user data, including friend lists, contact information, and sometimes even private messages - and not always with the user's consent, the report alleged. The US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of NY declined to confirm or deny the investigation's existence. There have also been reports that the company is negotiating a multi-billion dollar fine with the Federal Trade Commission over the company's privacy failures.

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"We've provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so", it said in a statement.

As if today couldn't get any worse for Facebook, the company is now facing a criminal investigation as the result of its controversial data sharing practices. Facebook has said the partnerships were well-publicized at the time, and that it has since shut a lot of them down.

Facebook has allegedly ended most of the partnerships over the past two years.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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