In its latest filings to Congress, Facebook admitted it gave dozens of apps and firms extra time to wean off of users’ data beyond the date it previously said such collection had ceased.
On Friday, Facebook filed 747 pages’ worth of additional responses to some of lawmakers’ questions about its practices with user data. The Washington Post reported that Facebook submitted its latest filings within hours of a Friday night deadline, which Congress imposed following April hearings with the company that aroused around 1,200 questions from lawmakers.
Among other things, the filings revealed that Facebook granted special six-month extensions to 61 hardware- and software-makers for collecting certain user data after the company moved to block third-party collection in 2015. According to the Wall Street Journal, details in the massive document represent Facebook’s “most granular explanation” to date regarding exceptions to this data cutoff that were previously reported by media.
The document also acknowledged that Facebook shared personal information about its users with 52 domestic and international companies, including U.S. tech giants Apple, Microsoft, Spotify, and Amazon, China-based Huawei and Alibaba, and device-makers Samsung and BlackBerry.
As the Washington Post noted, “Lawmakers have taken special issue with Facebook’s relationships with Chinese device makers, particularly Huawei, which Democrats and Republicans have alleged is too closely intertwined with the country’s government, posing even greater privacy and security risks to users.”
According to the filings, 38 of those partnerships have ended, with seven more reportedly scheduled to end. Some of those partnerships continued into 2018, and 14 are currently ongoing, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Under the terms of a 2011 decree with the FTC, Facebook has since been required to get users’ permission before sharing their private information with an outside entity (or “third party,” specifically) as goes beyond a user’s own privacy settings.
Facebook previously argued that smartphone manufacturers who used the data for developing compatible devices, for example, constituted suppliers rather than third parties, and reiterated its stance on Friday that it has obeyed the FTC settlement.
The company wrote, “We engaged companies to build integrations for a variety of devices, operating systems and other products where we and our partners wanted to offer people a way to receive Facebook or Facebook experiences … These integrations were built by our partners, for our users, but approved by Facebook.”
As Engadget pointed out, “The document comes roughly two weeks after Facebook gave Congress a 452-page set of answers to questions Mark Zuckerberg didn’t immediately answer during his testimony. It still doesn’t explain everything, though.”
At the same time, the Post noted, Facebook’s admission to the extensions is “the fullest to date regarding reports that Facebook [had continued sharing] user data with some companies for years.”