Facebook accused of giving access to users’ data

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A United Kingdom parliamentary committee has published 250 pages worth of Facebook documents, including emails sent between CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other senior executives.

The release covers 250 pages including the MPs' summary and exhibits including emails from figures including Mark Zuckerberg and internal Facebook documents. "It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not", Damian Collins, member of parliament and committee chair, said.

A California court had ordered that the emails be kept secret as part of the ongoing lawsuit against the social network, but Mr Kramer claims he was given no choice when confronted at his London hotel room by Parliament's Serjeant-at-Arms and threatened with imprisonment.

"Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data", Collins said in a statement.

These were sealed by the courts, but United Kingdom authorities seized them from the plaintiff in that lawsuit while he was in London as part of their investigation into Facebook's practices and handling of user data.

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The increased exposure of private data generated more revenue for app developers, and this outcome was the key driver behind the changes made by Facebook.

As for the DCMS's assertions regarding how the company's "reciprocity" provision and its Onavo VPN app dealt with user data, Facebook points out that users "had the choice" as to whether or not they would opt in and share their data. But the facts are clear: "we've never sold people's data".

Collins also alleged that Facebook took aggressive positions against competitor apps by denying them access to any user data. It deliberately made it harder for users to be aware of this happening in order to avoid bad PR, the MP stressed.

A January 2013 email in the documents from Justin Osofsky, currently Facebook's vice president for global operations and media partnerships, notes that Twitter had just launched Vine, its now-discontinued short-video service, which was allowing their users to find friends via Facebook.

A spokesman for Facebook was unable to immediately comment.

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