Facebook has disclosed that it had data-sharing pacts with at least four Chinese companies including Huawei that has been flagged by American intelligence agencies as a national security threat. Facebook said the agreements with the Chinese companies allowed them access similar to what was offered to BlackBerry, which could retrieve detailed information on both device users and all of their friends — including religious and political leanings, work and education history and relationship status. The agreements date back to 2010, but the Huawei deal would end by the weekend, Facebook said. Facebook has data-sharing partnerships with Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL, which gave these Chinese companies private access to certain user data. Top American lawmakers expressed concern over such an agreement by Facebook with Chinese companies.
“The news that Facebook provided privileged access to Facebook’s API (Application Programming Interface) to Chinese device makers like Huawei and TCL raises legitimate concerns, and I look forward to learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers,” Senator Mark Warner, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said. “Concerns about Huawei aren’t new – they were widely publicised beginning in 2012 when the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a well-read report on the close relationships between the Chinese Communist Party and equipment makers like Huawei,” Warner said.”Huawei and ZTE devices may pose an unacceptable risk to (military) personnel, information and mission,” Pentagon spokesman Major Dave Eastburn has said last month. Huawei, one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world, was the recipient of billions of dollars in lines of credit from China’s state-owned policy banks, helping to fuel its overseas expansion in Africa, Europe and Latin America.