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Facebook disclosed Saavan, Airtel among other firms got special access to user data

Source PTI || 04/07/2018

Social media giant Facebook disclosed that its user’s data can be accessed by an Indian global telecommunications services company – Bharti Airtel and by an Indian music company – Saavan. This information is disclosed by Facebook in new written submissions to the US Congress.

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As per reports, India’s biggest telecom company Airtel and music streaming app Saavn are among the dozens of companies that received either a special, one-time exemption from Facebook after it cut off access to user data in 2015 or signed data sharing agreements with the social networking giant as part of an “integration partnership”.
As per reports, Earlier this year, Facebook accused voter profiling firm Cambridge Analytica of getting the physiological profiles of 50 million people from Kogan. This firm violated its data policies by sharing data.

The data is suspected to have been used to influence elections in the US. Since then, apps launched after April 30, 2014, were required to use more restrictive platform APIs and with widespread complaints and criticism, it announced that type of data access would be blocked from May 2015. However, companies like Airtel, Saavan, Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, and Blackberry firms were allowed to access to data in exemption scheme.

The company disclosed the existence of two groups of deals, each with separate permissions and restrictions.
One set of deals were with a group of Airtel and 51 other companies that Facebook authorized to tap its user data in order to “recreate Facebook-like experiences”. In its submissions, the company disclosed what it called “integration partnerships” – deals that were forged that allowed software partners “to build ways for people to access their [Facebook] experiences on a range of devices and products”.

The other part of deals is with Saavn, which is merged with the Reliance-owned Jio Music platform and a group of 61 companies that were given a temporary exemption to a block on apps accessing details about users’ friends. Since its inception, the social networking service has allowed third-party apps like Saavn to access, supposedly with consent, wide-ranging data about the friends of users who had signed up.

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Facebook said to Congress in its submission,” special permissions are given “less than six months beyond May 2015 to come into compliance”. “Such access to information about an app user’s friends required not only the consent of the app user but also required that the friends whose data would be accessed have their own privacy settings set to permit such access by third-party apps,”

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As per reports, Bharti Airtel said that it values the privacy of users and has used such data only for internal purposes. “The matter pertains to the year 2010 when Airtel was granted access to data by Facebook as an app developer. The project ended in 2013 and so did the access to the data. We confirm that the data was used only for our internal purposes. We take data privacy extremely seriously and follow a zero-tolerance policy on the same.”

Facebook is also investigating every app that had access to large amounts of information before it changed its policies in 2014. So far it has suspended 200 apps of the thousands it investigated and will ban them if it finds evidence of wrongdoing.

“If we identify misuses of data, we’ll take immediate action, including banning the app from our platform and pursuing legal action if appropriate,” it told Congress.

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