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 WaldenTrade deal talks expand as Congress debates tech legal shield Trump draws ire after retreat on drug prices pledge FCC votes to bar use of its funds to purchase Huawei, ZTE equipment MORE (R-Ore.) released a statement with Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 House to vote next week on sweeping bill to lower drug prices Hillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware 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: Trump officials propose retaliatory tariffs over French digital tax | FBI classifies FaceApp as threat | Twitter revamps policies to comply with privacy laws | Zuckerberg defends political ads policy Zuckerberg says Trump did not 'lobby' him during dinner Zuckerberg on allowing political ads: 'People should be able to judge for themselves' 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.