Facebook says it gave Huawei and other Chinese firms access to user data

Facebook says it has provided access to its users' data to Huawei, a Chinese smartphone maker that US intelligence ag...

Posted: Jun 6, 2018 11:43 AM
Updated: Jun 6, 2018 11:43 AM

Facebook says it has provided access to its users' data to Huawei, a Chinese smartphone maker that US intelligence agencies have described as a security threat.

Facebook on Tuesday said it has been operating data-sharing partnerships with four Chinese device makers that enabled the companies to recreate Facebook-like experiences for their users.

The news is set to fuel further concerns about how Facebook handles people's personal information and protects their privacy. It comes after the social media company admitted earlier this week -- following an investigation by The New York Times -- that it signed data-sharing deals with dozens of phone and tablet makers over the years, including Apple and Samsung.

The agreement with Huawei is likely to draw particular scrutiny because of concerns expressed by US officials that the Chinese government can use the company's smartphones and other products for intelligence gathering -- allegations Huawei has repeatedly denied.

"Huawei is the third largest mobile manufacturer globally and its devices are used by people all around the world, including in the United States," said Francisco Varela, Facebook's vice president of mobile partnerships. "Facebook along with many other US tech companies have worked with them and other Chinese manufacturers to integrate their services onto these phones."

Related: Facebook faces new regulatory backlash over data privacy

Facebook said earlier this week that it forged partnerships with around 60 companies back when mobile phones were less powerful and app stores did not yet exist. The social media company said it gave device makers access to software only so they could build versions of Facebook that worked on different phones or operating systems.

Facebook announced in April it was winding down the partnerships. It said Tuesday that it has ended more than half of them and that the Huawei one will shut down this week.

The other three Chinese companies that signed data-sharing deals with Facebook are Lenovo, Oppo and TCL, which owns the rights to the Alcatel and Blackberry smartphone brands.

"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 said.

He added that "all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei's servers."

Facebook's social network has been blocked by Chinese censors for years. But the company has long shown an interest in finding ways into the country, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg working to build relationships with Chinese leaders.

Facebook's partnerships with the Chinese firms were first reported by The New York Times. None of the four companies immediately responded to requests for comment.

Related: Pentagon says stores on US bases should stop selling Huawei and ZTE phones

One of China's biggest and most prominent tech companies, Huawei has faced suspicions from the US government for years. As well as selling smartphones, it builds telecom networks in countries across Asia, Europe and Latin America.

But its networks business has largely been shut out from selling equipment to American operators after Congress issued a critical report in 2012. Lawmakers suggested that equipment from Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese tech company, could pose a threat to national security. The companies strongly disputed the allegations.

Huawei has suffered a series of setbacks in the United States this year.

In January, an effort to get AT&T to sell its smartphones collapsed at the last minute. Then in February, top officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency said at a Senate hearing that they would recommend against American citizens using products made by Huawei and ZTE.

The Pentagon has also ordered stores on US military bases to stop selling Huawei and ZTE phones.

Huawei has repeatedly defended itself, saying its products are sold in 170 countries and "meet the highest standards of security, privacy and engineering in every country," including the United States.

-- Nanlin Fang contributed to this report.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37624

Reported Deaths: 1503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12150785
Ramsey4805226
Stearns234519
Dakota228690
Anoka2180107
Nobles16626
Olmsted110115
Washington106940
Mower9452
Rice8357
Scott7004
Clay58538
Kandiyohi5701
Wright4565
Blue Earth4532
Todd4002
Carver3641
Lyon3092
Sherburne3075
Freeborn2900
Steele2281
Watonwan2160
Benton2143
St. Louis17715
Martin1635
Nicollet15912
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Goodhue1298
Winona12215
Crow Wing10612
Pine1030
Le Sueur981
Chisago971
Otter Tail931
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Carlton850
Dodge840
Polk812
Chippewa781
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Isanti720
Itasca6412
Waseca640
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Becker550
Faribault550
Jackson550
Sibley542
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Brown302
Rock300
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Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood180
Cass152
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Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Roseau130
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen81
Clearwater70
Hubbard60
Lake60
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 30975

Reported Deaths: 720
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6464179
Woodbury321544
Black Hawk225258
Buena Vista171111
Johnson12648
Dallas126329
Linn126282
Marshall104319
Scott77810
Story7623
Pottawattamie72111
Wapello70630
Dubuque68322
Crawford6772
Muscatine62944
Sioux4630
Tama46229
Wright3801
Louisa36013
Jasper32317
Plymouth3165
Warren2731
Dickinson2642
Washington2369
Webster2132
Hamilton1871
Cerro Gordo1561
Boone1481
Clay1330
Clarke1312
Allamakee1284
Mahaska11517
Shelby1140
Clinton1071
Poweshiek1048
Carroll961
Pocahontas941
Bremer926
Franklin890
Des Moines882
Henry863
Emmet850
Cedar821
Taylor790
Monona760
Cherokee751
Floyd722
Hardin700
Marion700
Guthrie664
Benton651
Sac630
Jefferson590
Osceola590
Jones560
Humboldt541
Butler532
Harrison530
Lee532
Hancock510
Iowa510
Buchanan501
Monroe506
Calhoun492
Delaware491
Fayette480
Madison452
Clayton433
Lyon410
Palo Alto410
Davis391
Winneshiek380
Grundy370
Mitchell370
Mills360
Howard350
Kossuth340
Lucas304
Greene290
Jackson290
Chickasaw280
Winnebago280
Union270
Ida230
Cass220
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
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Unassigned160
Adair150
Ringgold150
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