New York governor orders Facebook probe

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Facebook probe: NY governor orders investigation into Facebook's data collection from other apps |  An "outrageous abuse of privacy" says NY governor, Andrew Cuomo.

It appears that the spotlight is intensifying its focus on Facebook in the latest in a series of condemnations of the tech giant's data collection and usage practices.

Facebook already faces an abundance of lawsuits and governmental inquiries into its data privacy practices. These include calls by European parliaments' for Mark Zuckerberg to personally appear to answer questions concerning content and privacy matters.

There is also the 'small matter' of a certain FTC investigation into revelations that Facebook erroneously shared the personal information of some 87 million users, with the now defunct political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica.

New Facebook probe

It is now reported by Reuters, that New York's Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has ordered two state agencies to launch investigations into a media report that Facebook Inc may be accessing considerably more personal information from smartphone users than was previously known. Allegedly, the data being collected includes health and other sensitive data.

The New York Department of State and the Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) were instructed after the Wall Street Journal (“WSJ”) reported that tests revealed Facebook had collected users' personal information from other apps installed on their smartphones - within a few seconds of the data being entered by the user.

In its report, the WSJ said that several apps share user data with Facebook including highly sensitive information such as individuals' weight, blood pressure and ovulation status. The report also says Facebook is, in some cases, able to access this data without the user being signed into Facebook, or does not even have a Facebook account.

Outrageous abuse of privacy

In a statement concerning the Facebook probe, Governor Cuomo labelled the practice an "outrageous abuse of privacy", while calling on federal regulators to look into the matter.

Facebook responded that it would assist officials in the probe, but noted that the focus of the WSJ report was on how other apps use people's personal data in order to create ads.

The company commented:

"As [the WSJ] reported, we require the other app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us, and we prohibit app developers from sending us sensitive data. We also take steps to detect and remove data that should not be shared with us,"

The DFS is not usually in the business of supervising social media companies. However, the department has been involved in digital privacy matters within the financial services sector. Consequently it could potentially oversee certain app providers that share user data with Facebook.

Next month, the department is earmarked to implement America's first cybersecurity rules governing state-regulated financial institutions including banks, insurers and credit monitors.

Sources and Credits: Reuters, Wall Street Journal

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