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 PalloneLawmakers discussing potential compromise to revive drug pricing measure House Democrats announce bill to rein in tech algorithms House Democrats ramp up probe of FDA approval of Alzheimer's drug 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 CicillineHouse votes to censure Gosar and boot him from committees House to vote Wednesday to censure Gosar, remove him from committees Gosar faces increasing odds of censure on House floor 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 ZuckerbergHillicon Valley — Amazon draws COVID scrutiny Meta exec who co-founded Diem digital currency leaving the company Two lawyers who filed suit challenging election results ordered to pay nearly 7K MORE.

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