A New York grand jury has subpoenaed records from at least two smartphone manufacturers as part of a criminal investigation into Facebook’s data deals with large technology companies.
The story, first reported by the New York Times, cites anonymous sources familiar with the grand jury requests. Federal prosecutors have been looking into the social media giant’s deals with more than 150 firms to share data on hundreds of millions of users. Customers for that reportedly included Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Sony, each of whom had agreements to see user friends, contact information and other data without consent.
Facebook has allegedly ended most of the partnerships over the past two years. Facebook stated that it is cooperating with investigators. ““We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.”
Prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York are behind the investigation, one of several underway against Facebook on various privacy and data issues, centered around access Facebook granted to its business partners on user personal information without consent. That allowed techology companies to harvest vast amounts of user data in order to market services geared toward user friends, interests and tastes.
The serious violations were exacerbated by Facebook’s breach of agreements with the Federal Trade Commission over use of consumer data, and the contridiction of statements by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives on its tactics and practices. The Times reported that FTC officials are considering multiple billions in fines for violation of its 2011 agreement.