Personal writer covering technology policy
̵ 1; AFP PICTURES OF THE YEAR 2018 – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is witnessing a senate panel in April.…
An important UK legislature said Wednesday that Facebook maintained “whitelisting agreements” which enabled companies to get advantageous access to valuable user data, echoing a key requirement from an app developer who has been involved in a trial with the social network of a California court.
Damian Collins, chairman of a British parliamentary committee that has led a wide-ranging survey of Facebook and its contacts with political consultation Cambridge Analytica, released a summary of findings along with more than 200 pages of documents Wednesday. Facebook has denied that it offered favorable access to data for major advertisers, as app developer Six4Three has claimed in his suit.
Collins released a limited edition of documents that have been sealed in a California court for a long time, together with a summary saying, “Facebook has clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with some companies, which meant that after the platform changed 2014/15, they retained full access to friends data. It is not clear that there was any user certificate for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies would be whitelisted or not. “
Facebook, who has long said that it does not sell user data, did not respond immediately upon request on comment but has questioned such claims in the past and said that some legal documents filed by the Six4Three were misleading and did not represent the company’s practice or policy.
The documents came from a carefully crafted battle in the San Mateo County federal court in the United States between Six4Three and Facebook. They came to the possession of British authorities last month when the Six4Three developer Ted Kramer traveled to London with digital copies of thousands of documents. The British authorities took custody of the actions in distinction with the shipment in the California court.
The critics of the company say that the legal documents in the Six4Three case highlighted practices that endangered the privacy of users and could have broken in 2011
A small number of documents were published last week, including descriptions of e-mails that indicate Facebook managers had discussed giving access to their valuable user data to some companies that bought advertising when it was struggling to launch their mobile advertising business. The alleged exercise started about seven years ago, but has become more relevant this year, as the current methods – which allow third-party developers to gather data about not only app users, but their friends – are in focus for Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Facebook said last week that the image offered by these documents was misrepresented by Six4Threes attorneys.
Cambridge Analytica, a political consultant whose vice president was Republican strategist Stephen K. Bannon, gained access to 87 million users data as Facebook has said was incorrect but resembled a common practice at the time of app developers. Facebook stops to a large extent to allow such broad access to user data 2015, but it did not stop it for all developers at the same time because the company said that some necessary extras would keep their software from breaking in ways that would have injured users.
Cambridge Analytics acquisition and use of such data for political campaigns has given several surveys, as it was revealed in news reports in March. In the United States, the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FTC have investigated Facebook’s handling of these data and its public representations about it.
Since the Cambridge Analytica controversy, legislators have repeatedly questioned Facebook about its relationships with data partners. President Mark Zuckerberg told the Congress in April that the company had discontinued outsiders access to friends data several years ago, but subsequent reports have exposed privileged relationships as measured by the company.
Facebook has not questioned the authenticity of the documents in violation of Kramer, the Six4Three Developer. However, the company said that the exhibits in the case were selectively used to give a misleading portrait of decision making at the company at a time when the social network limited the information that app developers could gather from the platform greatly.
“The Six4Three documents collected for this unscrupulous case are just part of the story and presented in a way that is very misleading without further context,” said Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook’s Head of Development Platforms and Programs, in a statement last week. “We stand by the platform change we made 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends data with developers. Any short-term additions granted during this platform transition were to prevent the changes from breaking the user experience. “
Kramer’s company was the developer of Pikinis, an app that made it possible for people to find photos of Facebook users wearing bikinis. The app was built on the back of Facebook’s data, which Six4Th ree and thousands of other developers are reached through a flow like is known as an application programming interface or API. The data feed enabled Six4Three to scan Facebook for bikini images by people who were friends with Pikini users.