Press Release

Public Knowledge Urges FTC to Investigate Facebook’s Data-Sharing Partnerships With Device Makers

June 4, 2018 , , , ,

Yesterday, reports surfaced that Facebook formed data-sharing partnerships with device makers, enabling companies like Amazon and Apple to access Facebook users’ and their friends’ data — without those friends’ consent. Reports indicate that the shared data includes data pertaining to users who expressly denied Facebook permission to share their information with any third parties.

Public Knowledge calls on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether these partnerships violate Facebook’s 2011 consent decree, which prohibits Facebook from overriding users’ privacy settings without consent.

The following can be attributed to Allie Bohm, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“For months now, we’ve been talking as a nation about so-called ‘friends’ permission’ (when an app user’s contacts’ or friends’ data are delivered to the app developer without the friends’ consent). In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Facebook promised that it had ended the company’s ‘friends’ permission’ feature in 2014 and argued that another Cambridge Analytica scenario simply could not occur today.

“The news that Facebook, in fact, continued to share users' friends' data — often without permission and even when the friends had expressly barred such sharing — with 60 device makers until April of this year belies Facebook's assertion. The FTC should investigate whether Facebook violated its 2011 consent decree, in which Facebook committed to obtain users' express affirmative consent before overriding their privacy preferences.

“Moreover, this revelation raises questions about who has access to consumers' personal data, under what rubric, and for what purposes. Consumers also need to know who their data are shared with and how their data are secured. This is not solely a Facebook issue, but an issue that pertains to each of the 60 companies that received data from Facebook and to countless other entities that obtain, use, store, and share personal information. Congress should holistically examine privacy in the digital age and pass strong comprehensive privacy legislation.”