Facebook reportedly under criminal investigation for secret data-sharing deals

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Meets With Members Of Congress On Capitol Hill

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress in April 2018. Alex Wong Getty Images

Facebook is the subject of a federal criminal investigation that's looking into its data-sharing deals with some of the biggest tech firms on the planet, The New York Times reported Wednesday. 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.

"It has already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, including by the Department of Justice", a Facebook representative said in a statement. Both of the companies were given access to the personal data of hundreds of millions of Facebook users.

Facebook has defended the deals.

In December, following the Times report, Facebook said in a blog entry that these partnerships were necessary to enable certain social features in outside apps, like logging into a Facebook account from a Windows phone, or sharing what Spotify song you were listening to via Facebook Messenger.

A grand jury has subpoenaed records from the manufacturers, according to the New York Times, which first reported the existence of the criminal probe. A grand jury investigation is "serious" and suggests the company as a long way to go to regain the trust of users after two years of privacy and security-related scandals, CNBC said.

Facebook is facing a slew of lawsuits and regulatory inquiries over its privacy practices, including ongoing investigations by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and two state agencies in NY. At the time, the company strongly disputed that these data partnerships violated users' privacy or the company's 2012 settlement with the FTC.

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