Facebook reportedly under criminal investigation for secret data-sharing deals

Professor Alice Roberts

A grand jury in NY has subpoenaed records from at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the requests and without naming the companies. Other arrangements allowed Amazon to obtain users' names and contact information through their friends and permitted Yahoo to view streams of friends' posts as recently as this summer, the Times reported, despite Facebook's statements that it had ended that type of data sharing.

Facebook seemed to confirm the report by telling the Times it is "cooperating" with investigators.

News of the criminal investigation is the latest in a series of controversies surrounding the two billion-member social networking giant.

Earlier this year, reports suggested that Facebook could be hit with the biggest fine ever handed down by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had mined the information of up to 87 million users without their consent.

Social media platform Facebook, Inc.

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A grand jury has subpoenaed records from the manufacturers, according to the New York Times, which first reported the existence of the criminal probe.

Federal prosecutors are investigating data-sharing deals struck between Facebook and makers of mobile computing devices.

The deals sparked outrage - and have come under sharp scrutiny - since they were revealed in a investigation by the Times previous year. Facebook said in July it had received questions from USA agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI, and was cooperating. Numerous partnerships ended years ago, the Times noted, but the deals with Amazon and Apple were ongoing at the time of the story.

The United States Department of Justice declined to comment on the report.

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