Top Dem wants answers on Facebook sharing data with phone makers

Top Dem wants answers on Facebook sharing data with phone makers
© Greg Nash

The top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee said on Monday that Facebook “should be prepared to come before Congress" and answer questions about its data collection practices.

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“It’s deeply concerning that Facebook continues to withhold critical details about the information it has and shares with others,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneEquifax to pay up to 0 million to feds, states in 2017 data breach settlement Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Overnight Energy: USDA expected to lose two-thirds of research staff in move west | EPA hails Trump's work on reducing air pollution | Agency eyes reducing inspections of nuclear reactors MORE (D-N.J.) in a statement.

“Facebook and other data collectors, including these device manufacturers, should be prepared to come before Congress so that we can get a better grasp of the entire data collection ecosystem, and how people’s personal information is being shared and used,” the New Jersey Democrat continued.

Pallone’s remarks follow a New York Times report on Sunday that detailed Facebook’s data-sharing policies with device makers such as Apple and Blackberry.

The committee's GOP leadership, though, gets the final say in who testifies before the panel.

A spokeswoman for House Energy and Commerce leadership called The New York Times report "troubling" and said the committee plans to examine the issue further. 

"The Energy and Commerce Committee will continue to examine the issues raised here, and reiterates the call for industry leaders to come and testify before us, discuss their practices, and demonstrate their commitment to an open dialogue," said Elena Hernandez.

Facebook’s partnerships allowed device makers to obtain user data such as relationship status, religion and political leanings, and also allowed for the sharing of data on users’ Facebook friends.

The company started to wind down the partnerships in April, according to The New York Times.

The social media giant on Monday pushed back against the story, writing in a post that partners “signed agreements that prevented people’s Facebook information from being used for any other purpose than to recreate Facebook-like experiences.”

“Contrary to claims by the New York Times, friends’ information, like photos, was only accessible on devices when people made a decision to share their information with those friends,” Ime Archibong, Facebook’s vice president of product partnerships, said in the post.

Pallone isn’t the only Democrat to criticize Facebook after the report and raise the possibility of congressional testimony.

On Sunday, Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineTwo Democrats vow to press forward on Trump impeachment Democratic lawmaker calls asylum, refugee programs 'crown jewel' of immigration system House Democrat: Mueller testimony will help people 'understand the gravity' of Trump's conduct MORE (D-R.I.) tweeted that it “sure looks like Zuckerberg lied to Congress about whether users have 'complete control' over who sees our data on Facebook,” referring to CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Maxine Waters says her committee will call in Zuckerberg to testify about Libra Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp MORE.

“This needs to be investigated and the people responsible need to be held accountable,” he added.