Facebook entered into a data-sharing agreement with Huawei, a Chinese firm flagged as a national security threat by U.S. intelligence agencies, the social network admitted on Tuesday.
via the New York Times:
Facebook has data-sharing partnerships with at least four Chinese electronics companies, including a manufacturing giant that has a close relationship with China’s government, the social media company said on Tuesday.
The agreements, which date to at least 2010, gave private access to some user data to Huawei, a telecommunications equipment company that has been flagged by American intelligence officials as a national security threat, as well as to Lenovo, Oppo and TCL.
The four partnerships remain in effect, but Facebook officials said in an interview that the company would wind down the Huawei deal by the end of the week.
The data-sharing deals were part of Facebook’s broader outreach to smartphone manufacturers in 2007, the details of which were reported earlier this week. The revelation that Facebook had granted data access to “at least 60” phone manufacturers led to accusations that Mark Zuckerberg lied to Congress when he told lawmakers that users have “complete control” over who has access to their data.
Huawei, one of the manufacturers granted access, was founded by a former engineer in the People’s Liberation Army, and has close ties to the Chinese government. The CIA, NSA, and FBI and the Director of National Intelligence have warned American consumers not to use Huawei devices.
In Senate testimony earlier this year, FBI director Chris Wray expressed “deep concerns” about allowing companies “beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks.”
Wray warned that it would provide those governments with “capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”
Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio have introduced legislation that would bar the U.S. government from using Huawei devices.
“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”, Sen. Cotton said.