Facebook under criminal investigation over its data-sharing deals with tech firms
Data scandals? Data breaches? Privacy issues? The list of Facebook's troubles keeps mounting on. And to add on to its long list of concerns, the social media giant is facing a criminal investigation by the federal investigators in New York.
According to a report by the New York Times, federal prosecutors are in the middle of conducting a criminal investigation into the data deals that Facebook made with tech companies. A grand jury in New York has subpoenaed records from at least two tech giants that had exclusive agreements with Facebook, which gave them a broad access to the personal information of millions of Facebook users. The two companies that have been subpoenaed are among the 150 tech companies including Amazon, Apple and Microsoft that had exclusive data-sharing deals with the social media firm.
At present, Facebook is in the process of negotiating a fine for the investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) into the company's past data practices which resulted in the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the subsequent breaches. It is also being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). And now, the company is facing another investigation by a grand jury inquiry, which is overseen by the prosecutors with the US attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York, even as it tries to get past a year of bad press.
As per the report, it remains unclear when the inquiry by the grand jury began and more importantly, what exactly is the focus area of the group. Facebook, on its part, said that it is cooperating with the ongoing investigations.
"We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously. We've provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so," a Facebook spokesperson told the publication.
Notably, Facebook has come a long way since the time reports of its exclusive data sharing agreements surfaced on the internet. It has since ended all such agreements and recently, the company's co-founder Mark Zuckerberg also detailed the steps that his company would take to increase privacy on the platform. Even so, one cannot help but wonder that a separate investigation on top of the ones by the the SEC, the FTC and the FBI cannot mean good news for Facebook.