Facebook Provided Phone Makers 'Deep Access' to User Data

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Facebook says that this is okay because even though it stopped providing this information to third parties in 2015, it doesn't consider BlackBerry to be a third party because of the partnership that it and other device makers have with Facebook.

According to The Times, Facebook has partnership deals on the books with major mobile device manufacturers, including Samsung, BlackBerry, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and more.

Vladeck said the additional penalties could include a court-ordered monitor of Facebook's business practices, injunctions against particular ways of using of consumers' data or heightened monitoring by the FTC. This was to the extent that some companies could retrieve data on a Facebook user's friends even when such sharing was thought to have been barred. Under the FTC agreement, Facebook is required to obtain explicit user consent to share data externally.

Parakilas told the Financial Times that while Facebook said it had blocked apps from acquiring the data held by app users' friends, "in the case of hardware manufacturers they didn't do that".

Amazon and Samsung haven't yet provided comment.

"These partners signed agreements that prevented people's Facebook information from being used for any other objective than to recreate Facebook-like experiences", Archibong said in the blog. A Times reporter logged into his Facebook account on that app, gaining access not only to detailed information about 556 friends, including sensitive stuff about religious and political leanings, but also to identifying information on 294,258 friends-of-friends.

The report says that the company hasn't only been sharing user data with their device makers but also their friends', as well.

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What does this have to do with Cambridge Analytica?

Late last month, he testified before European Union lawmakers and apologized for the way Facebook has been used to produce fake news, interfere in elections and gather people's personal information. I thought it was fairly common knowledge that BlackBerry had some special access to the Facebook API, especially with the way BBOS devices handled Facebook and how Facebook for BlackBerry 10 integrated with contacts and such through the Hub.

Most of the partnerships remain in effect, although in response to recent public and governmental concerns over data-sharing practices, the company has ended some of the agreements since March. It says the deals were put in place to help device makers offer Facebook on their operating systems in a time before apps and app stores.

Facebook's already spotty data sharing policy is apparently more problematic than observers had believed. "BlackBerry users seem to have been turned into data dealers, unknowingly and unwillingly".

Apple, for instance, said it has worked with Facebook for years to let its users share things on Facebook through iPhone and Mac apps.

"We controlled them tightly from the get-go", said Ime Archibong, VP of Product Partnerships, in a statement. One of the commission's Democratic members, Commissioner Rohit Chopra, declined to discuss Facebook.

The Privacy International campaign group said companies must "protect users' data by default".