In a New York Times exposé this week, the newspaper revealed how a smartphone is able to access the data of 294,000 people connected to one user through Facebook friends of friends on Blackberry Hub. The functionality is not only in the online browser presentation but has become embedded in devices designed and manufactured by Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft, and Samsung. Later in the week, Chinese manufacturers Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL were added to the evolving story.
The NYT says that Facebook treated third party device companies as partners under an umbrella that has never been previously reported to provide data without users’ explicit consent. The newspaper which conducted its own tests says data transmitted included relationship status, religion, political preferences and events that Facebook users would be attending. The data transmission to Huawei is especially criticised because of alleged connections to the Chinese military and intelligence. The Australian Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security Deputy Chair Anthony Byrne MP said, “I want to know why Mr Zuckerberg allowed this to happen. If need be, he will be invited to appear before the PJCIS in a public hearing to explain himself to our committee and the Australian people.”
Distancing his company from the data controversy engulfing Facebook, CEO Tim Cook insists that Apple has never accessed personal data for its own uses or purposes and does not build in addictive features to devices. Cook says, “The things mentioned in the Times article about relationship statuses and all these kinds of stuff, this is so foreign to us, and not data that we have ever received at all or requested — zero.”
Image: Pixabay / CC0-1.0 – Facebook app icon
This story is taken from the 08 June 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.