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A Facebook Partnership with China's Huawei Sparks Spying Fears


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A Facebook Partnership with China's Huawei Sparks Spying Fears

The company reportedly gave four Chinese smartphone makers special access to some user data over their devices. But Facebook said the integrations were controlled from the start.
 
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The latest privacy controversy swirling around Facebook is now triggering fears about Chinese state-sponsored spying.

 

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Facebook struck partnerships with four Chinese smartphone makers for special access to some user data. The vendors include Lenovo, Oppo, TCL and Huawei Technologies, a company that US lawmakers claim has close ties with the Chinese government and represents a security threat.

 

The Chinese smartphone companies are among the 60 device makers, including Apple and Samsung, which Facebook reached special deals with to install the company's services on their phones.

 

On Sunday, The New York Times, reported that the data-sharing agreements can not only let the vendors access Facebook profile data from users, but also info from their friends, regardless of what permissions have been set. News of the data-sharing agreements sparked US senator Mark Warner to question whether Chinese vendors also had the same access.

 

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In an email to PCMag, Facebook confirmed the partnerships with the Chinese vendors, but signaled that the spying fears were overblown.

"Facebook's integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL were controlled from the get go —and we approved the Facebook experiences these companies built," said Francisco Varela, the company's vice president of mobile partnerships, in a statement.

 

"Given the interest from Congress, we wanted to make clear that all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei's servers," he added.

 

Facebook also told PCMag that only some partners had decided to store the integrations on their own company servers, but Huawei was not one of them. As a result, the Chinese vendor had no way to pull the Facebook data from users' phones.

 

Although the agreements with the Chinese vendors remain in effect, in April Facebook decided to end the program and phase out all the partnerships. The company's deal with Huawei will end later this week.

 

In 2012, a Congressional committee labeled Huawei a security threat over its suspected ties with the Chinese government. In addition to smartphones, Huawei also sells telecommunication gear to mobile carriers, but US lawmakers fear the same technology could secretly contain backdoors to let China snoop on Americans.

 

Huawei has repeatedly denied the spying accusations, and noted that its Android smartphones use US technology from the likes of Google. But that hasn't stopped the US from preventing the Chinese company from entering the local market. Both AT&T and Verizon reportedly decided to drop selling a Huawei phone on pressure from government officials.

 

On Tuesday, Senator Mark Warner said the concerns about Huawei have been well-publicized. "The news that Facebook provided privileged access to Facebook's API to Chinese device makers like Huawei and TCL raises legitimate concerns, and I look forward to learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers," he said in a statement.

 

However, Facebook is defending its partnership with the Chinese company, noting that Huawei is the third largest smartphone vendor in the world. "Facebook along with many other US tech companies have worked with them and other Chinese manufacturers to integrate their services onto these phones," Varela said in his statement.

 

"We are not aware of any abuse by these companies," Facebook added in a blog post earlier this week, defending the partnerships. "These partners signed agreements that prevented people's Facebook information from being used for any other purpose than to recreate Facebook-like experiences."

 

Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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straycat19
1 hour ago, Dino101 said:

We are not aware of any abuse by these companies

 

What a joke.  Facebook doesn't know what is going on with its data or who is getting what.  A truer statement was never made by a company, "we are not aware..."  When you give someone access to an API you are creating a small hole in your system that can be used to gain greater access.  And though Facebook might not send any data to anyone they don't look to see what data they are accessing behind their backs.  Just think of Cambridge Analytica.

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And then there's Facebook's move of 1.5 billion of its users' data out of the EU so that it's not subject to the tough new EU privacy laws.

 

Certainly sounds like a company that takes seriously the privacy of its users' data. :rolleyes:

 

Facebook to put 1.5 billion users out of reach of new EU privacy law

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1 hour ago, Karlston said:

And then there's Facebook's move of 1.5 billion of its users' data out of the EU so that it's not subject to the tough new EU privacy laws.

 

Certainly sounds like a company that takes seriously the privacy of its users' data. :rolleyes:

 

Facebook to put 1.5 billion users out of reach of new EU privacy law

The feds would love for M$  to move all there data to the USA, they been after it for years ..This not only helps out companies to be able to get you're data it also helps the government now they have easy access to everyone's data on Facebook as well.

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