Facebook Failed to Police How Its Partners Handled User Data
Facebook failed to closely monitor device makers after granting them access to the personal data of hundreds of millions of people, according to a previously unreported disclosure to Congress last month.
Facebook’s loose oversight of the partnerships was detected by the company’s government-approved privacy monitor in 2013. But it was never revealed to Facebook users, most of whom had not explicitly given the company permission to share their information. Details of those oversight practices were revealed in a letter Facebook sent last month to Senator Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat, a privacy advocate and frequent critic of the social media giant.
When a team from PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted the initial F.T.C.-mandated assessment in 2013, it tested Facebook’s partnerships with Microsoft and Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry handset. In both cases, PricewaterhouseCoopers found only “limited evidence” that Facebook had monitored or checked its partners’ compliance with its data use policies. That finding was redacted from a public version of PricewaterhouseCoopers’s report released by the F.T.C. in June.
“Facebook claimed that its data-sharing partnerships with smartphone manufacturers were on the up and up,” Mr. Wyden said. “But Facebook’s own, handpicked auditors said the company wasn’t monitoring what smartphone manufacturers did with Americans’ personal information, or making sure these manufacturers were following Facebook’s own policies.” He added, “It’s not good enough to just take the word of Facebook — or any major corporation — that they’re safeguarding our personal information.”
In a statement, a Facebook spokeswoman said, “We take the F.T.C. consent order incredibly seriously and have for years submitted to extensive assessments of our systems.” She added, “We remain strongly committed to the consent order and to protecting people’s information.”
Facebook, like other companies under F.T.C. consent decree, largely dictates the scope of each assessment. In two subsequent assessments, Facebook’s October letter suggests, the company was graded on a seemingly less stringent policy with data partners. On those two, Facebook had to show that its partners had agreed to its data use policies.
A Wyden aide who reviewed the unredacted assessments said they contained no evidence that Facebook had ever addressed the original problem. The Facebook spokeswoman did not directly address the 2013 test failure, or the company’s apparent decision to change the test in question.
Because the United States has no general consumer privacy law, F.T.C. consent decrees have emerged as the federal government’s chief means of regulating privacy practices at Facebook, Google and other companies that amass huge amounts of personal data about people who use their products. In letters and congressional testimony, F.T.C. officials have pointed to the decrees as evidence of robust consumer privacy protection in the United States.
A spokesman for PricewaterhouseCoopers acknowledged in a statement that Facebook defines the privacy procedures, known as “controls,” that are tested during the assessments.
“Changes to controls may occur as platforms evolve, such that a control tested in one period may not be identical in a subsequent period,” the spokesman said.
The October letter to Senator Ron Wyden details Facebook’s oversight of its partnerships with device makers.
While the assessment reports were publicly released by the F.T.C. in June, they included significant redactions, which Facebook and PricewaterhouseCoopers said were necessary to protect trade secrets.
Mr. Wyden, whose staff had viewed the full assessments, said at the hearing that he found parts of the unredacted reports “very troubling” and pressed Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, to release them in their entirety.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based consumer rights group that helped obtain the 2011 consent decree, is currently suing the agency for release of the full assessments, arguing that the public cannot otherwise judge how effectively the F.T.C. is policing privacy violations.
“What is clear is that the F.T.C. has failed to enforce the consent order,” said Marc Rotenberg, the president of the privacy rights group. “And this has come at enormous cost to American consumers.”
Facebook’s compliance with the consent decree is the subject of a new F.T.C. investigation opened in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
In the letter last month, Facebook’s vice president for United States public policy, Kevin Martin, noted that the assessors’ findings had not caused Facebook to fail PricewaterhouseCoopers’s overall evaluation: The assessors concluded that Facebook was operating “with sufficient effectiveness to provide reasonable assurance” that it was protecting its users’ privacy.
It remains unclear whether Facebook has ever scrutinized how its partner companies handled personal data. A spokeswoman declined to provide any examples of the company’s doing so.
A BlackBerry official, who declined to discuss details of the companies’ data-sharing agreement, said BlackBerry did not think that Facebook had ever audited its data use, but noted that BlackBerry’s business model relies on protecting users’ personal information.
November 13, 2018
Sources: New York Times
ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>For now, Qualcomm believes the ban is already in force, but all models of iPhone remain available to purchase in China. By next week, the ban could be irrelevant, but that doesn't mean it will be removed immediately. As part of the reconsideration request, Apple offered to pay a "counter security" of roughly $87 million to get the ban lifted.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>To prevent the musician from coming face to face with her stalkers, Swift's team employed a somewhat controversial solution during her May 18 Rose Bowl show: facial-recognition technology.</p><p>"Despite the obvious privacy concerns—for starters, who owns those pictures of concertgoers and how long can they be kept on file?—the use of facial-recognition technology is on the rise at stadiums and arenas," the report notes.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
net that's evaporating, possibly holding clues into the discovery of rocky "super-Earths."</p><p>Researchers at the University of Geneva Switzerland found the exoplanet GJ 3470b, which showed signs of losing hydrogen in its atmosphere, causing it to shrink.</p><p>The study is part of exploration into "hot Neptunes," planets that are the size of Neptune, sit very close to their star, and have atmospheres as hot at 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, says NASA.</p><p>Finding a "hot Neptune" is rare because they sit so close to their star and tend to evaporate more quickly. In the case of GJ 3470b, scientists classify it as a "warmer" Neptune because it sits farther away from its star. </p><p>The exoplanet discovered by astronauts is losing its atmosphere at a rate 100 times faster than a previous "warmer" Neptune planet discovered a few years before, according to a study published Thursday in the journal "Astronomy & Astrophysics."</p><p>The planet sits 3.7 million miles from its star. For comparison, Earth is 92.9 million miles from the sun.</p><p>"This is the first time that a planet has been observed to lose its atmosphere so quickly that it can impact its evolution," said lead author Vincent Bourrier, a researcher in the Astronomy Department of the Faculty of Science at the University of Geneva, in a statement.</p><p>Researchers say these "hot Neptune" planets shrink in size and morph into "Super Earths," versions of our planet that are massive and more rocky. Just last month, a Super Earth was found orbiting a nearby star.</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>The games have been updated to include a number of visual tweaks including opting to play in standard 4:3 or using a "pixel perfect" mode to better suit your high-definition TV. Accessing the games is easily done through a single app which then allows you to filter by genre. There's also a rewind feature and the ability to save your progress in each of the games.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
grocery delivery company announced.</p><p>The move comes a little over a year after Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Amazon has its own delivery service called AmazonFresh.</p><p>Whole Foods and Instacart began working together in 2014. Two years later, they signed a deal for Instacart to become the chain's exclusive delivery carrier.</p><p>Instacart currently employs 1,415 couriers, which it calls "in-store shoppers," across 76 Whole Foods locations.</p><p>About 75 percent of the employees will be transferred to other locations, Instacart Founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta said in a statement. However, the remaining 25 percent — about 350 — will be laid off and will receive three-month separation packages as well as tenure-based compensation.</p><p>Instacart will begin winding down its operations at Whole Foods on Feb. 10 and exit the marketplace in the succeeding months, the company said.</p><p>"For our in-store Whole Foods shoppers who are personally impacted by this news, we’re deeply committed to being transparent about what this means for you and plan to share any updates with you as they become available," Mehta said.</p>
nished Google on Friday for disclosing the identity of a man charged with killing a female British backpacker, highlighting the tension that arises when local courts order the suppression of information that can be easily found online.</p><p>Google executives from the United States and Britain are set to travel to New Zealand to meet with Andrew Little, the justice minister, on Tuesday. Mr. Little is demanding that the company change its algorithms to ensure that material published outside New Zealand that violates local court suppression orders is not visible in the country.</p><p>The man’s name has been suppressed in New Zealand under a legal provision often invoked by defendants in the country that is meant to guarantee fair trials, and it was not released by local reporters.</p><p>But several British media outlets published it, and on Thursday Google included the man’s name in the subject line of an email sent to people in New Zealand who subscribe to a service that local topics that trending online.</p><p>“When we receive valid court orders, including suppression orders, we review and respond appropriately,” the statement said, adding that Google respected New Zealand’s laws.</p><p>Mr. Little, the justice minister, said he took “with a grain of salt” the suggestion that Google did not know, or would expect to be told, about suppression orders in the case.</p><p>“They’re going to have to change their algorithm, because it’s not right that they think they can get away with undermining fair trial rights,” he said.</p><p>Lokman Tsui, a professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and a former Google employee, said it was a “scary standard” to say Google “should have known” about a suppression order in New Zealand.</p><p>“If that applies, that means they would have to actively monitor every court case going on in the world, looking for names and pre-emptively taking them down,” he said.</p><p>Mr. Little said he also planned to contact British publications that published the man’s name, adding that they could only have gotten it from reporters in New Zealand who found it in court filings in Auckland.</p><p>“I don’t have any legal pressure to put on them,” he said, adding that he did have “moral pressure, which I will be applying as hard and as fast as I can.”</p><p>“I don’t accept their arrogance and their conceit in saying that it’s nothing to do with them and New Zealand’s laws are New Zealand’s laws,” he added.</p><p>It was not clear whether the email about trending topics that breached the suppression order originated at the company’s operations in New Zealand or in another country, and whether it fell within New Zealand’s legal jurisdiction.</p><p>A spokesman, Taj Meadows, did not address where the email originated, but said it had been received by fewere than a few hundred people.</p><p>Mr. Little rejected the idea that the internet’s existence had rendered name suppression orders irrelevant.</p><p>He said he planned to ask the Google executives whether there was a problem with the company’s algorithms that allowed suppressed information to be distributed widely, and, if so, whether Google would take action to fix it.</p><p>If not, Mr. Little said he would consider a campaign that “might take years” to persuade other countries to agree to a treaty stating “that orders issued in one country can be enforced in another.”</p><p>“That way, publishers and republishers like Google don’t have the excuse that they’re not responsible, the law can’t be enforced, and they don’t even have to worry about it,” he said.</p><p>Professor Tsui, the former Google employee, said such an approach was not feasible.</p><p>“That solution would cause so many other problems that we really wouldn’t want to go there,” he said.</p>
d the spectacle was eye-opening. It underscored, to me, how Silicon Valley and Washington exist in their bubbles without really understanding each other. Lawmakers seemed like out-of-touch old people with little grasp of how technology works and where the real risks lie. Mr. Pichai came across as evasive and unwilling to acknowledge the legitimate concerns about Google’s business practices.</p><p>At holiday parties and informal discussions in Washington, the conversation often turned to big tech and privacy. There seemed to be a growing wariness among lawmakers, regulators and aides about data collection and the unrelenting push by companies to gather more information about us.</p><p>While many expressed concern about the bigness of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, there wasn’t a consensus on how to deal with them. A federal privacy law with real teeth seemed uncertain, and not many folks expected antitrust regulation even in the face of European action.</p><p>All the while, tech companies continue to sell the message that they are job creators and engines of economic growth.</p><p>■ An argument often made against antitrust action is that the technology industry is dynamic, and that today’s dominant predator can become tomorrow’s prey. Nokia once dominated mobile phones but lost its standing to Samsung and Apple in the smartphone era.</p><p>■ It’s rare for a bail hearing to make international news, but this was no ordinary arrest.</p><p>Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the tech behemoth Huawei and a daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested Dec. 1 at the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia, for extradition to the United States.</p><p>The American and Canadian authorities claim Ms. Meng circumvented trade sanctions against Iran, using a Huawei subsidiary. The arrest of a prominent executive at one of China’s biggest tech companies, with close ties to the government, complicates the Trump administration’s negotiations to end a trade war with China.</p>
land over ways to limit global warming, the industries and machines powering our modern world keep spewing their pollution into the air and water.</p><p> The fossil fuels extracted from beneath the earth's crust — coal, oil and gas — are transformed into the carbon dioxide that is now heating the earth faster than scientists had expected even a few years ago.</p><p> The devastating wildfires, droughts, floods and hurricanes of recent months and years are intensifying the urgency of the two-week conference in Katowice, which is due to end Friday.</p><p> But not far from the conference center, plumes of smoke rise from Europe's largest lignite, or brown coal, power plant, in the central Polish town of Belchatow. Of the 50 most polluted cities in the European Union, 36 are in Poland.</p><p> Elsewhere, from the U.S. to Japan and China, the coal plants, oil refineries and other installations needed to power factories and heat homes are playing their role in a warming earth.</p><p> The negotiators at the international talks are also discussing financial support to poor countries, which are bearing the brunt of drought and flooding, which translate often into agricultural disaster and famine and are a factor behind greater migration.</p><p> The challenge of reducing emissions is made more difficult by the growing demand in the developing world for fuel as people there also seek to achieve the benefits and comforts of the industrialized world.</p><p> In Africa and Asia, which have become dumping grounds for the rich world's waste, it is now common to see poor people scavenging for scraps of paper and other recyclable materials at garbage dumps, competing sometimes with crows or storks.</p><p> Fumes from cars are also playing their role in poisoning the air in many cities, from Jakarta and Katmandu to Moscow to Brussels.</p><p> Environmentalists in Katowice are warning that time is running out to prevent ecological disaster, a message also being taken up by artists.</p><p> In London, 24 large blocks of glacial ice from the waters surrounding Greenland have been placed in front of the Tate Modern and six at other city locations. Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson hopes his installation, called "Ice Watch" and launched Tuesday to coincide with the climate conference in Katowice, will impact people emotionally and inspire urgent public action.</p><p> The installation will be on show until the ice melts.</p>
:</p><p> German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said Friday that "if we let entire stretches of this planet become uninhabitable then it will trigger gigantic costs."</p><p> Trump said in an interview Thursday with Fox News that if he had remained in the Paris accord "we would be paying trillions of dollars, trillions of dollars for nothing, and I wouldn't do that."</p><p> The Paris accord requires countries to reduce their emissions, something scientists say will involve a wholesale shift in their economies. Rich countries have also committed themselves to providing financial support to poor nations to tackle global warming.</p><p> Negotiators at the U.N. climate meeting in Poland are gathering to discuss the first comprehensive draft agreement to emerge after almost two weeks of talks.</p><p> Ministers and senior officials from almost 200 countries were due to hold further meetings Friday before convening in plenary in the afternoon to address remaining differences.</p><p> Among the key pitfalls to emerge overnight was the question of how to establish a functioning international market in carbon credits and whether some countries should get money for damage already caused by climate change.</p><p> The meeting is meant to finalize the rulebook for the 2015 Paris climate agreement, provide assurances to poor nations on financial support for tackling global warming, and send a message that countries are committed to stepping up their efforts in the coming years.</p>
thering to discuss the first comprehensive draft agreement to emerge after almost two weeks of talks.</p><p> Ministers and senior officials from almost 200 countries were due to hold further meetings Friday before convening in plenary in the afternoon to address remaining differences.</p><p> The meeting is meant to finalize the rulebook for the 2015 Paris climate agreement, provide assurances to poor nations on financial support for tackling global warming, and send a message that countries are committed to stepping up their efforts in the coming years.</p>