In the latest flap over the Facebook ongoing saga, the social media giant allowed a Chinese firm charged by the federal government as a national security threat to access to user information, without the consent of the individual.
Facebook confirmed to Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the top Democrat on the Senate intel panel, the social media giant entered into a third-party agreement with Shenzhen-based Huawei Technologies Co., one of roughly 60 other device manufacturers the company partnered with to help replicate a “Facebook-like” experience on other operating systems.
“Concerns about Huawei aren’t new – they were widely publicized beginning in 2012, when the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a well-read report on the close relationships between the Chinese Communist Party and equipment makers like Huawei. 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,” Warner said in a statement.
A Facebook spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The New York Times reported on Monday that Facebook, as part of its partnership with device manufacturers, allowed companies to access data from friends of an individual user, sometimes without explicit consent.
Facebook officials told the New York Times it would wind down its partnership with Huawei by the end of the week.
The federal government has sought to crack down on the U.S. operations of both Huawei and fellow Chinese-owned ZTE Corp.
The Commerce Department in April issued a denial order prohibiting any U.S. company from selling products to ZTE for seven years.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that ZTE agreed to pay a $1.7 billion fine to lift the ban, but a Department of Commerce spokesperson denied such a deal was reached.
“No definitive agreement has been signed by both parties,” the spokesperson said.
The Pentagon has halted the sales of either companies products on military bases and the FCC has sought to limit the companies access to rural telecom carriers.
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