Facebook blown away by the privacy advocates, legislators about data sharing agreements

connectVideoFacebook gave companies ‘intrusive’ access to private messages and personal data

Senator-elect Josh Hawley discusses Facebook’s abuse of user information.

Facebook attracted widespread, destructive criticism from privacy advocates and lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic ocean on Thursday for not providing the size of the broad data-sharing deals, which gave other tech companies access to private user data and information.

The world’s largest social network is recovering from a massive New York Times investigation that examined more than 150 agreements Facebook had with different partners, including Apple, Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon, to the companies in order to gain access to user names, contact information and private messages. In a second blog post responding to the outrage, Facebook said these contracts were openly discussed and available when users are logged in to the other services with Facebook. Some of the agreements date back to the platform in its first years.

The company’s mea culpa and bullet-pointed statements have not stopped the growing calls for the federal privacy regulation or penalties through the ongoing Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation.


“It is time that Congress got serious about the protection of the privacy, the data, the personal confidential information of hundreds of millions of Americans,” said Josh Hawley, a Senator of the V. S.-elect of Missouri, on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight. “[Facebook] said that they would not share personal, private, confidential data of users, without the users permission. It seems that is exactly what Facebook is doing, though, that they are sharing that data in order to make a profit without the user consent.”

Hawley, a Republican, and the constitutional lawyer, also called on the FTC to investigate whether the latest revelations put the tech giant in violation of the consent decree that the tech giant signed in 2011. Facebook has denied that the data sharing arrangements in conflict with the 2011 consent decree, but the privacy advocates have said that the Menlo Park, California, the company is probably in violation of the terms and conditions.

Privacy advocates said Facebook no longer deserves the confidence of the 2.2 billion users, of which the constant sharing on the platform powered the company’s $13.7 billion for the third quarter sales.
(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the FTC probe is moving in a “snail’s pace” and “becoming a bad joke.”

“The congress must act quickly & powerful next session with a strong protection of privacy act that protect you against such an intrusive, abusive misuse of information for the consumer,” Blumenthal said in a statement on Twitter. “In the hope for a renewed Commerce Committee hearings in the beginning of January!”

Privacy advocates said Facebook no longer deserves the confidence of the 2.2 billion users, of which the constant sharing on the platform powered the company’s $13.7 billion for the third quarter sales.

“We are particularly turbulent Times’ new report that Facebook is an undermining of the privacy of the user by misinterpreting the term “service provider”, which is an exception to the privacy rules in the FTC’s 2011 consent order,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit digital rights organization, said in a blog post.


According to the EFF, many data privacy rules restrict the transfer of personal data from one company to the other, because such arrangements can increase the risk of theft by hackers or misuse by employees, and any other applications that the consumer can’t anticipate. But the privacy rules often exempt so-called service providers. “A company may not be required to consent to the storage of the consumers data with a third party data-storage service, on the condition that the storage service does nothing with the data except store,” the nonprofit said.

The EFF said it is “alarmed” by the way in which Facebook privacy-director Stephen Satterfield, interprets the “service provider” exception, as described in the Times story:

With most of the partnerships, Mr. Satterfield said, the F. T. C. agreement was not necessary to use the social network to protect users ‘ consent for the sharing of data, because Facebook considered the partners as extensions of themselves — service providers that allowed users to communicate with their Facebook friends. The partners were forbidden to use the personal data for other purposes, ” he said.

“On the contrary, the kind of company-to-company sharing of data, described in the new article, do not fall within a reasonable definition of “service provider”, ” the EFF said.

“Every time you share something on Facebook or any of our services, on the right there is a control in the line where you have the control that you want to share,” Zuckerberg told the U.S. Congress earlier this year. This is a lie,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, in a Guardian op-ed.



Kate Crawford, the co-founder of the AI Now Institute of the University of New York, said the New York Times investigation reveals that user control of data on the internet is a myth.

“The total lack of respect for the wishes of the user, the infinitely repeating scandal of 2018,” Crawford added.

David Cicilline, D-R. I., tweeted: “Zuckerberg told the Conference that Facebook users had “full control” over their data. Certainly he seems to have lied.”

In the middle of the data-sharing fallout, Facebook shares fell more than 7 percent and a decline of approximately 24 percent for the year. In addition, the Association of National Advertisers on Tuesday said the FTC should advocate for a new federal law that determines how advertisers collect and use customer data, as a way to pre-empt regulations of the individual states.

“On the basis of these revelations, I am afraid that Facebook have provided @EnergyCommerce with incorrect, incomplete or misleading answers to our questions, and we will be following,” said New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, a Democrat, on Twitter.

Facebook, which was previously an explanation of the data-sharing agreements in a blog post, is still struggling with the consequences of Cambridge Analytica, in which a data-mining company was allowed to access the information of 87 million users. On Wednesday, D. C. Attorney-General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit, which could be accompanied by other states ‘ attorneys general, who claimed that the company of Mark Zuckerberg told users that it is the protection of their personal information, but allowed the developer of a personality quiz app for collecting and selling the data of users who haven’t downloaded or used the app.


Damian Collins, chairman of the United Kingdom’s powerful Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which is probing Facebook actions in relation to the dissemination of misinformation, said that Facebook should appear before the committee to explain the details of the policy.

“We have to seriously challenge the claim by Facebook that they are not selling user data. They can’t let people take it away by the bucket load, but they do reward companies with access to data that others be denied if they place a high value on the business that they do together,” Collins said in a statement. “I have a feeling that we have been given misleading answers by the company when we have asked these questions during previous evidence sessions.”

In his appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Sen. Hawley suggested a wider examination of the Major Tech would be required.

“I think it’s time we looked at the impact of big tech on our personal lives, in our families, in schools, on our society. These are large companies. Many of them monopolies. They make billions of dollars per year. There has never been more powerful companies in the history of the world, and they must be held accountable,” the Missouri senator said.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood told a spokesman that her office, which is already investigating Facebook, would also examine the newly revealed data-sharing partnerships as part of that probe.

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