Facebook Claims Users Gave Their Permission For Third Party Companies To Access Their Data
Soon after a report surfaced that Facebook allowed tech titans such as Netflix, Amazon, and Microsoft to have special access to the data of its users, Facebook has responded that there was no feature or partnership under which the companies were able to access the information of users without their permission.
According to experts, the actual issue is that a lot of users have no idea that they are giving their permission in the first place. A Pivotal Research Group research analyst, Brian Wieser, stated that while it isn’t in doubt that a fraction of the data sharing was reasonably expected of the consumers, however, the bulk of the data wasn’t reasonably expected.
The result of a survey conducted by Deloitte in 2007 which had about 2,000 consumers in the U.S. as respondents found that 91% of them willingly opted for the legal T and C’s even though they did not read the terms before they installed the apps, accepted the updates, registered for Wi-Fi hotspots or signed into different online services like video streaming. The percentage also increased to 97% among those between 18 and 34 years.
One problem that companies and users have is defining what amounts to consent. According to a researcher in University College London, Michael Veale, consent in America often times depends on the approval given one time to the terms and conditions of the company. He, however, added that the nation is gradually progressing towards data regulations that are patterned after Europe’s style.
Sometime in May, Europe introduced the General Data Protection Regulation to govern data privacy in the region. According to GDPR, consent is an indication which is freely given, unambiguous, specific and informed which is expressed through a definite statement. According to Veale, consent under the regulations isn’t a take or leave the situation.
Previous Issues With Federal Trade Commission
The social media titan earlier faced an accusation of the violation of consent decree which it reached in the year 2011 with FTC over the way it handled the Cambridge Analytica scandal. These latest revelations could once again bring FTC on the tail of Facebook. It is a requirement under the FTC agreement that the users of the social media platform would give their permission before Facebook can proceed to let out their personal information beyond already-established privacy settings. Facebook maintains that the agreements it made with its partners were not in violation of these agreements.
According to reports of New York Times, Facebook allowed some tech titans to have a higher level of access than it actually disclosed. According to the paper, Facebook gave freedom to Microsoft’s Bing to access the names of almost all the friends of the Facebook users without prior consent and it cited internal records describing the data sharing deals that were beneficial to over 150 companies.
According to the company’s director in charge of developer programs and platforms, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, none of the features or partnerships gave third parties companies freedom to access information without the permission of the users neither were they in violation of the company’s settlement with the Commission.
Settlement With Commission
In 2012, Facebook reached a settlement with the Commission over different charges that the social media company was actually deceiving its consumers while also leaving them with no choice than to share beyond their originally intended level of information.
The report also contends that Facebook allowed companies such as Spotify and Netflix to be able to read the private messages of the users. According to a spokesperson for Netflix, there was never any time when the company accessed the private messages of people on Facebook neither did they ask to be able to do that.
Netflix did launch a feature sometime in 2014 that allowed members to make recommendations of movies and shows to their friends on Facebook either through Netflix or Messenger. However, the spokesperson noted that the feature wasn’t so popular and so Netflix shut it down in 2015.
Facebook on its part claims that access to the companies called integration partners had the sole aim of easing the means by which Facebook users can access special features on platforms and devices created by other firms such as Yahoo, Apple, Blackberry and Amazon.
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