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House panel calls for Facebook transparency following new revelations

House panel calls for Facebook transparency following new revelations
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The top members of a House panel are urging Facebook to be more forthcoming following revelations about the company’s data-sharing agreements with device-makers, including Chinese firms facing scrutiny in the U.S. over national security concerns.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHillicon Valley: Leadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns | Snapchat launches in-app video platform 'Spotlight' | Uber, Lyft awarded federal transportation contract Lawmakers urge FCC to assist in effort to rip out, replace suspect network equipment OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE (R-Ore.) released a statement with Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse Democrats urge Amazon to investigate, recall 'defective' products Asbestos ban stalls in Congress amid partisan fight Pharma execs say FDA will not lower standards for coronavirus vaccine MORE (D-N.J.), the panel’s ranking member, saying that details about the partnership should have been revealed when they heard testimony from Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Facebook content moderators demand more workplace protections | Ousted cyber official blasts Giuliani press conference | Tech firms fall short on misinformation targeting Latino vote Facebook says AI is aiding platform's ability to remove hate speech Facebook content moderators demand more workplace COVID-19 protections MORE in April.

“Clearly, the company’s partnerships with Chinese technology companies and others should have been disclosed before Congress and the American people,” they said in the statement. “The spirit of our questions about third-party access to user data should not have required technical knowledge of the legal agreements Facebook has with device manufacturers to get clear answers for the public.”

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Facebook did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that Facebook’s partnerships with device-makers involved sharing more data than was previously disclosed. On Tuesday, the social network told the Times that the Chinese telecom firm Huawei was among the dozens of companies that had been under a data-sharing agreement.

The intelligence community has long considered Huawei a national security threat due to its ties to Beijing and the firm has been mostly shut out of the U.S. since a 2012 congressional report warned that its hardware could be used to conduct surveillance on Americans.

Both Huawei and Facebook have said that the partnership did not involve collecting data on users and that any information that was used didn’t make it to the Chinese company’s servers.

But it remains to be seen whether lawmakers, who have been issuing warnings about firms like Huawei and ZTE for years, will be reassured by Facebook’s explanation.

“As the committee continues to examine these issues closely with the ongoing audit of Facebook data practices, and awaits response to our written questions from the hearing, we strongly encourage full transparency from Facebook and the entire tech community,” Walden and Pallone said Wednesday.