At least four Chinese manufacturers had unfettered access to Facebook’s user data, thus joining the ranks of Cambridge Analytica, Blackberry, Apple, Amazon, Samsung and many, many other companies.
This latest overshare on the part of Facebook dates back to a 2007 initiative that targeted roughly 60 device manufacturers in an effort to herd mobile phone users onto the Social Network. Facebook gave data access to Lenovo, Oppo, TCL, and Huawei, and possibly others. The news follows recent reports about the Blackberry Hub app’s access to detailed information on device users as well as their contacts.
Of the four agreements with mobile phone manufacturers, Huawei gives rise to the most serious concern given that it’s been declared a national security threat by the U.S. government and is under investigation for potentially breaking American trade controls with Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. The Pentagon has banned the use of Huawei-manufactured devices by members of the military.
Virginia Senator Mark Warner expressed concern over the revelation and its potential impact on national security: “[D]oes our personal info reside on a server in China?” he asked at an event this week.
Although Facebook has been banned in China since 2009, CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues to court the Chinese government re-establish a foothold in that market. It’s unclear whether the data relationship is still ongoing, and if the access granted to mobile device manufacturers might be tied to those efforts.
Read more about the story as it develops here.