Federal Prosecutors Probes Facebook Data Sharing Deals

U.S Federal prosecutors are currently pursuing a criminal probe into the controversial deals social networking giant – Facebook – has had with major tech companies.

According to a recent report by The New York Times, a grand jury has been conducting the investigation and has gotten possession of records from at least two major makers of smartphones and other devices.

Both companies had allegedly gotten into partnerships with Facebook, gaining access to hundreds of millions of its users.

The deals had been reported in June last year after the discovery that Facebook had been sharing users’ data with BlackBerry, Apple, and Samsung.

While the deals were made in order for Facebook to create its app for the respective devices, it was alleged that Facebook provided these companies with special access to user data including private messages, contact information, user’s friends without consent.

It is however unclear when the criminal investigation started or when the grand jury was established.

Facebook in recent times has been plagued with controversies over data privacy concerns. The Federal Trade Commission has probed the social media platform for months following the Cambridge Analytical Scandal that resulted in a political consulting firm obtaining about 87 million users.

The criminal investigation is still active, ran by District of North Carolina’s prosecutors. It is reported that Facebook will likely face a multi-billion dollar fine as a result of the data breach.

Following the scandal, Congressmen have begun to press tech companies over data privacies and have recently called for data privacy legislation to be passed later this year.

A spokesperson for Facebook, in the wake of the recent investigation, has stated that the company is fully cooperating with the investigation, stressing that the probes are taken seriously. Facebook has also answered questions, provided public testimonies and will continue to do so throughout the probe.

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg had promised a strengthened privacy-oriented messaging across its various platforms.