Facebook, the company, detailed on Tuesday that is has ongoing data sharing partnerships with four, possibly more, Chinese companies, one of which is a known risk to National Security, Huawei.
There are over two billion Facebook users across the world, some of which may work for United States Intelligence Agencies, serve in the Armed Forces, and or are active politicians.
Facebook incorporated granted ‘special access’ of user data to Chinese corporations such as Huawei, who the United States’ government had previously deemed a threat to National Security. The Social Media giant passed user data to Huawei through their API, Application Program Interface, such as access to users’ relationship status, friends, likes, and more.
According to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, while speaking to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Chinese Smart Phone conglomerate, Huawei, could have conducted ‘undetected espionage’ on unsuspecting users.
Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who asked Facebook if Huawei was among the companies that received user data, said in a statement that the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee had raised concerns about Huawei dating back in 2012.
“The news that Facebook provided privileged access to Facebook’s API to Chinese device makers like Huawei and TCL raises legitimate concerns, and I look forward to learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers,” Warner said.
Only after the New York Times published a report did Facebook state that they would ‘wind down’ the ‘special access’ it granted to companies across the world. Furthermore, the corporation indicated that they would end the agreement with Huawei later this week.
Previously, in regards to Huawei, the Pentagon banned the sale of Huawei smartphones on US military bases because of the risk it poses to National Security.
The reason that Huawei poses such a threat is because some Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE have ‘deep links’ to the Chinese government. Also, the FBI director, Chris Wray, said the US government was ‘deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks.’
“Huawei is effectively an arm of the Chinese government, and it’s more than capable of stealing information from U.S. officials by hacking its devices,” Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton said earlier this year. ‘There are plenty of other companies that can meet our technology needs, and we shouldn’t make it any easier for China to spy on us.’
Earlier today a Facebook executive issued a statement detailing that the Social Media Giant “carefully managed,” the access it gave to Chinese companies.
“Facebook along with many other U.S. tech companies have worked with them and other Chinese manufacturers to integrate their services onto these phones,” Francisco Varela, vice president of mobile partnerships for Facebook, said in a statement.
“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 added that “given the interest from Congress, we wanted to make clear that all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei’s servers.”
The only question that remains then is, did Facebook manage it as carefully as it managed the access it gave to companies like Cambridge Analytica?