Facebook hit with US criminal investigation over data-sharing deals

James Warrington
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Testifies At Joint Senate Commerce/Judiciary Hearing
Mark Zuckerberg testifying before the US Senate amid the Cambridge Analytica scandal (Source: Getty)

US prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into Facebook over a number of data deals it struck with other major tech firms.

A grand jury in New York has ordered two smartphone manufacturers to hand over records, the New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Read more: Facebook to encrypt more messages in privacy drive

The exact details of the investigation are not known, but the two tech firms are among more than 150 companies - including Amazon, Apple and Microsoft - that have partnered with Facebook for access to its users’ personal data, according to the report.

The investigation is the latest blow for Facebook, which is facing probes by the US Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and two state agencies in New York.

Facebook’s use of data has come under increased scrutiny following revelations about its partnership with Cambridge Analytica last year. The tech giant faces accusations it allowed the political consultancy to harvest user data without their consent.

Facebook has previously defended its data sharing with tech companies, stating it allowed users to access their accounts across different devices and platforms. The firm said none of its partnerships gave companies access to information with user permission.

Read more: Facebook restores service after worst outage in its history

“We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously,” a Facebook spokesman said. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.”

The revelations came as the firm scrambled to resolve an outage on Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp that affected users across the globe for more than 14 hours.