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Four Chinese Companies Were Given Access To Some Data, Accepts Facebook

Four Chinese Companies Were Given Access To Some Data, Accepts Facebook
Four Chinese companies are among those with whom Facebook has data sharing partnerships. The list includes Huawei which is the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world and one which has faced flak from the US intelligence authorities on issues of security.
The other three Chinese companies are computer manufacturer Lenovo Group, and smartphone makers OPPO and TCL Corp and are among the about 60 companies globally that were given access to some user data following their singing agreement with Facebook about recreating Facebook-like experiences for their users.
The data of the friends of users may have been gained access to without their explicit consent, reported The New York Times on Sunday that cause some Congress to raise concerns on the practice. While denying the contents of the report, Facebook said that the access to data given to third parties was only for allowing users to gain access to various features of their account on smartphones.
Facebook said that it has already wound up over half of the partnerships. Later this week, its agreement with Huawei would be ended, Facebook said. The agreements with the other three Chinese companies would also be ended soon, it said.
Based on allegations that the Chinese telecommunications companies are open to foreign espionage and hence are a threat to the U.S. infrastructure, such companies have come under close scrutiny of U.S. intelligence officials. Such allegations have been denied vehemently by the concerned Chinese firms.
Concerns about Huawei were raised as far back as in 2012 by the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, in a statement. He was the one who had questioned Facebook whether Huawei was among the companies that received user data.
“The news that Facebook provided privileged access to Facebook’s API to Chinese device makers like Huawei and TCL raises legitimate concerns, and I look forward to learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers,” Warner said.
The manner in which software components should interact is essentially specified by API, or application program interface.
Facebook had carefully managed the access it gave to the Chinese companies, said a company representative.
“Facebook along with many other U.S. tech companies have worked with them and other Chinese manufacturers to integrate their services onto these phones,” Francisco Varela, vice president of mobile partnerships for Facebook, said in a statement. “Facebook’s integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, OPPO and TCL were controlled from the get-go — and we approved the Facebook experiences these companies built.”
Varela added that “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.”
While refraining to comment on the cooperation between companies, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that she knew close to nothing about the issue.
“But we hope that the U.S. side can provide a fair, transparent, open and friendly environment for Chinese companies’ investment and operational activities,” Hua told reporters.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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