Can We Believe Them? Facebook Claims to Pull Data-Sharing Deals

Huawei is a Chinese mobile phone manufacturer that is flagged by US intelligence agencies as a national security threat. And Facebook gave it what is called “deep access” to user data: friends, relationship status, work history, likes, and more. But now the social media giant says it is cutting that agreement.

The world at large found out about this agreement after the New York Times broke the story days ago.

Facebook also shared data with Lenovo, Oppo and TCL, all Chinese, as well as Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, and Samsung. The social media giant says it has wound down such practices with other partner companies and Huawei’s will come to an end this Friday.

“All Facebook’s integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo, and TCL were controlled from the get-go — and Facebook approved everything that was built,” said Francisco Varela, a Facebook vice president. “Given the interest from Congress, we wanted to make clear that all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei’s servers.”

Controlled?

Here’s where things go wrong according to UC Berkley privacy researcher Serge Egelman as quoted by the New York Times. “You might think that Facebook or the device manufacturer is trustworthy. But the problem is that as more and more data is collected on the device — and if it can be accessed by apps on the device — it creates serious privacy and security risks.”

Cut to midweek and Huawei says it has never collected or stored user data. A Huawei spokesman told media,  “Like all leading smartphone providers, Huawei worked with Facebook to make Facebook’s services more convenient for users.” He added, Huawei “has never collected or stored any Facebook user data.”

Best practice advice to Facebook: you might want to stop anything that might make the American public feel compromised.