Facebook gave Apple, Samsung and other firms ‘deep access’ to user data: Report

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Hindustan Surkhiyan Desk:Raising fresh concerns about Facebook’s privacy protection policies, a New York Times report said the social networking site had agreements with at least 60 different device makers — including companies like Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung — to provide access to large amounts of user data over the last 10 years.

Even before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, Facebook had data-sharing partnerships with the device makers, the report said citing company officials, adding that most of the deals remain in effect.

While the device partnerships allowed Facebook to expand its reach, it let the phone makers offer customers popular features of the social network, such as messaging, “like” buttons and address books.

These agreements granted the device makers access to a Facebook user’s relationship status, political leaning, education history, religion and upcoming events, the Times reported.

Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, it added.

The agreements that Facebook entered raise “concerns about the company’s privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree” with the Federal Trade Commission, the report said.

Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing, The New York Times found.

In response to the report, a Facebook statement denies that information belonging to friends of users was shared without their permission. Facebook published a blog to defend its practice of sharing user’s personal data with other companies.

The embattled social network said its “partners could not integrate the user’s Facebook features with their devices without the user’s permission”.

“Contrary to claims by the New York Times, friends’ information, like photos, was only accessible on devices when people made a decision to share their information with those friends. We are not aware of any abuse by these companies,” it said.

“These partners signed agreements that prevented people’s Facebook information from being used for any other purpose than to recreate Facebook-like experiences,” it added.

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