Facebook's data deals are now under criminal investigation

Frederick Owens
March 14, 2019

Bay Area social media giant Facebook is reportedly under criminal investigation for its data-sharing deals with other tech companies.

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

The report comes as the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission continue scrutinizing Facebook's business model. Facebook was also sued by Washington DC in late December for allowing Cambridge Analytica to obtain personal data of users without permission. These data sharing partnerships allowed these technology companies to build features like Microsoft's People Hub or BlackBerry's Facebook integration as value adds for their devices.

As part of the investigation, a NY grand jury has subpoenaed two well-known smartphone makers for records related to the investigation, according to the report. At the time, the company strongly disputed that these data partnerships violated users' privacy or the company's 2012 settlement with the FTC.

"This episode has clearly hurt us", Facebook CEO Zuckerberg told Congress past year while speaking about the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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Facebook is already facing the prospect of multi-billion dollar fines to settle privacy investigations.

The Times report emerged on the same day that Facebook saw widespread outages on its apps, including Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Federal prosecutors are investigating data-sharing deals struck between Facebook and makers of mobile computing devices.

Much is unclear at this stage: the names of the companies, when proceedings began, or what exactly the focus will be.

The United States Department of Justice declined to comment on the report.

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