On Tuesday, Facebook confirmed that it has been sharing user data with four Chinese device makers, including Huawei and Lenovo. The U.S. firm promised to end the data sharing agreement with Huawei this week.
U.S. intelligence agencies have warned against Huawei as its products may beam data about U.S. users back to China. Facebook has shared user data with Huawei, TCL Corp, OPPO, and Lenovo. These Chinese companies are just some of the 60 companies that have data sharing agreements with the social media giant.
Facebook explained that the data had to be shared years ago when not all devices could support Facebook. The data was designed to help device makers to offer their users “Facebook-like experiences”.
The U.S. Congress questioned Facebook on the practice following a New York Times report published Sunday. The Times found that users’ data on their friends could be accessed by third-parties without their consent. The company denied allegations, saying that the data was only shared to enable users to enjoy some account features on their devices.
Agreements with Chinese Device Makers Will Soon End
Facebook added that more than 50% of its data sharing agreements have been severed. The partnerships with Lenovo, OPPO, an TCL will be ended soon.
U.S. officials are concerned that China’s tech companies could take part in foreign espionage and put the country’s national security at risk. U.S. spy agencies recommend not to use Chinese telecommunications companies’ products for government work. Beijing has repeatedly denied the allegations.
The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee has kept a close watch on Huawei since 2012 because of its ties with Beijing. The panel’s vice chairman Sen. Mark Warner noted that there are “legitimate concerns” about Facebook’s decision to allow the Chinese tech giant have access to its app’s API.
The Senator wants assurance from Facebook that the data on U.S. Facebook users has not been stored on Chinese servers.
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