Facebook Faces Criminal Investigation Over Data Sharing Deals Without User Consent

Facebook's privacy practices and the amount of data it shares with other apps and device makers are a big problem for lots of people. Facebook has been in trouble with the FCC over privacy issues and faces a fine that could be in the billion dollar range. While losing a big chunk of cash to fines is certainly not something the social networking giant relishes, facing criminal charges is something that Facebook would like to avoid at all costs.

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A new report going around suggests that federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into Facebook's data sharing deals with other tech companies. A New York grand jury is on the case, and a pair of unnamed smartphone makers have had records subpoenaed in the case according to reports. A New York Times report alleged late in 2018 that Facebook had data-sharing deals in place with more than 150 companies. These deals were in place as a way to drive more users to Facebook.

The report noted that many of the deals had ended years ago, but some of the deals allowed Facebook partners to access user data without obtaining the user's consent. The NYT says that some specific deals with Amazon and Apple were ongoing. The court that convened the grand jury investigation is for the Eastern District of New York.

Facebook has made no comment on the investigation, only reiterating that it was cooperating with investigators. A Facebook spokesperson told CNN Business, "It has already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, including by the Department of Justice. As we've said before, 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."

Facebook suffered a major outage yesterday that left users around the globe unable to access the service.