Not just another Facebook data scandal

Facebook defends itself from more accusations of misuse of personal data. Facebook's VP of Product Partnerships talks to CNN's Paula Newton.

Posted: Jun 6, 2018 1:18 PM
Updated: Jun 6, 2018 1:22 PM

Facebook says it has provided access to its users' data to Huawei, a Chinese smartphone maker that US intelligence agencies have described as a security threat.

Facebook on Tuesday said it has been operating data-sharing partnerships with four Chinese device makers that enabled the companies to recreate Facebook-like experiences for their users.

The news is set to fuel further concerns about how Facebook handles people's personal information and protects their privacy. It comes after the social media company admitted earlier this week -- following an investigation by The New York Times -- that it signed data-sharing deals with dozens of phone and tablet makers over the years, including Apple and Samsung.

The agreement with Huawei is likely to draw particular scrutiny because of concerns expressed by US officials that the Chinese government can use the company's smartphones and other products for intelligence gathering -- allegations Huawei has repeatedly denied.

"Huawei is the third largest mobile manufacturer globally and its devices are used by people all around the world, including in the United States," said Francisco Varela, Facebook's vice president of mobile partnerships. "Facebook along with many other US tech companies have worked with them and other Chinese manufacturers to integrate their services onto these phones."

Related: Facebook faces new regulatory backlash over data privacy

Facebook said earlier this week that it forged partnerships with around 60 companies back when mobile phones were less powerful and app stores did not yet exist. The social media company said it gave device makers access to software only so they could build versions of Facebook that worked on different phones or operating systems.

Facebook announced in April it was winding down the partnerships. It said Tuesday that it has ended more than half of them and that the Huawei one will shut down this week.

The other three Chinese companies that signed data-sharing deals with Facebook are Lenovo, Oppo and TCL, which owns the rights to the Alcatel and Blackberry smartphone brands.

"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 said.

He added that "all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei's servers."

Facebook's social network has been blocked by Chinese censors for years. But the company has long shown an interest in finding ways into the country, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg working to build relationships with Chinese leaders.

Facebook's partnerships with the Chinese firms were first reported by The New York Times. None of the four companies immediately responded to requests for comment.

Related: Pentagon says stores on US bases should stop selling Huawei and ZTE phones

One of China's biggest and most prominent tech companies, Huawei has faced suspicions from the US government for years. As well as selling smartphones, it builds telecom networks in countries across Asia, Europe and Latin America.

But its networks business has largely been shut out from selling equipment to American operators after Congress issued a critical report in 2012. Lawmakers suggested that equipment from Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese tech company, could pose a threat to national security. The companies strongly disputed the allegations.

Huawei has suffered a series of setbacks in the United States this year.

In January, an effort to get AT&T to sell its smartphones collapsed at the last minute. Then in February, top officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency said at a Senate hearing that they would recommend against American citizens using products made by Huawei and ZTE.

The Pentagon has also ordered stores on US military bases to stop selling Huawei and ZTE phones.

Huawei has repeatedly defended itself, saying its products are sold in 170 countries and "meet the highest standards of security, privacy and engineering in every country," including the United States.

-- Nanlin Fang contributed to this report.

Terre Haute
Broken Clouds
84° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 87°
Robinson
Scattered Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 83°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
83° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 84°
Rockville
Scattered Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 80°
Casey
Few Clouds
84° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 86°
Brazil
Broken Clouds
84° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 87°
Marshall
Broken Clouds
84° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 87°
Low chance of storms tonight with clearing conditions
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Sunday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Saturday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Ryan Lieberman

Image

Zoe Stewart

Image

WVFCA Friday Night Lights

Image

Tim Hayes

Image

Keeping your house cooler without running the A.C. all day

Image

Several local groups partner to help you learn new job skills

Image

Duke Energy says scammers have a new tactic to steal your information, and it involves refund checks

Image

Richland County sees an increase in young people contracting COVID-19

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 154094

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook951384711
Lake10318428
DuPage9641485
Kane8078281
Will7223325
Winnebago3156105
St. Clair2265144
McHenry2248102
Kankakee141466
Unassigned1180201
Rock Island116930
Madison116770
Kendall104823
Champaign103817
Peoria64430
DeKalb63720
Boone63521
Sangamon51933
Jackson35119
McLean31515
Randolph3107
Ogle2964
Stephenson2836
LaSalle25417
Macon25022
Clinton24717
Whiteside20915
Union20519
Grundy1935
Coles19017
Iroquois1755
Tazewell1728
Knox1680
Adams1671
Monroe15513
Williamson1554
Warren1490
Cass1388
Morgan1343
Jefferson11417
Henry1111
McDonough10615
Lee1052
Vermilion892
Pulaski840
Marion770
Montgomery731
Macoupin673
Douglas610
Perry611
Jo Daviess541
Livingston542
Christian504
Jasper477
Woodford462
Franklin450
Ford421
Clark400
Jersey401
Bureau372
Menard310
Effingham301
Cumberland290
Mercer290
Johnson270
Washington250
Alexander240
Fayette243
Mason240
Moultrie240
Wabash230
Piatt210
Bond201
Carroll202
Crawford200
Hancock201
Logan200
Shelby201
Edgar190
De Witt180
Wayne181
Fulton160
Massac160
Saline160
Schuyler130
Lawrence120
Marshall120
Brown100
White100
Richland90
Greene80
Henderson80
Hamilton70
Gallatin60
Pike60
Stark60
Clay50
Edwards50
Hardin20
Calhoun10
Pope10
Putnam10
Scott10
Out of IL00

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 51079

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12019693
Lake5588248
Elkhart353959
Allen2939134
St. Joseph210669
Hamilton1691101
Cass16449
Hendricks1454100
Johnson1340118
Porter82638
Tippecanoe7709
Vanderburgh7276
Clark69544
Madison67464
LaPorte61628
Howard59858
Bartholomew59745
Kosciusko5754
Marshall5449
Noble51328
LaGrange4849
Boone48244
Jackson4783
Delaware47152
Hancock46736
Shelby45425
Floyd40644
Morgan34231
Monroe34028
Grant31826
Dubois3046
Henry30018
Montgomery29720
Clinton2903
White27410
Dearborn25823
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Vigo2528
Warrick25029
Harrison21722
Greene19432
Miami1932
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1649
Wayne1546
Daviess15017
Perry14710
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1352
Ripley1307
Franklin1278
Gibson1202
Wabash1162
Carroll1142
Fayette1067
Whitley1066
Starke1043
Newton10010
Huntington942
Jefferson862
Wells821
Randolph794
Fulton731
Knox710
Jay700
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush613
Posey570
Spencer541
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike110
Unassigned0193