The government is studying the reports which allege Facebook sharing user data with at least 60 different device manufacturers, including companies such as Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon and Blackberry. “We are looking at the facts presented in the report and will assess how grave the situation is based on the preliminary findings,” a senior official at the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology told The Indian Express.
A Sunday report by The New York Times said that Facebook had entered into data-sharing partnerships with the manufacturers over the last ten years, which later came under scrutiny due to the company’s privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree with Federal Trade Commission. The report said that Facebook allowed the device makers access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders.
The social media company is already under fire for the data breach incident involving UK-based data analytics and political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica. The IT ministry had sent a notice seeking details from the internet company about breach of user data in the Cambridge Analytica case.
Facebook, in response to The New York Times article, had said in a blog post: “In the early days of mobile, the demand for Facebook outpaced our ability to build versions of the product that worked on every phone or operating system. It’s hard to remember now but back then there were no app stores. So companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube had to work directly with operating system and device manufacturers to get their products into people’s hands. This took a lot of time — and Facebook was not able to get to everyone”.
“To bridge this gap, we built a set of device-integrated APIs that allowed companies to recreate Facebook-like experiences for their individual devices or operating systems. Over the last decade, around 60 companies have used them — including many household names such as Amazon, Apple, Blackberry, HTC, Microsoft and Samsung,” the blog post authored by Ime Archibong, Facebook’s vice-president of product partnerships, said.