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1 Mar, 2019 01:44

NY watchdog digs into Facebook amid reports it harvests intimate data from apps

NY watchdog digs into Facebook amid reports it harvests intimate data from apps

The New York Department of Financial Services has requested documents from Facebook and developers of 11 apps after a report revealed they funnel data on users' menstrual cycles and the like to Facebook without consent.

The financial watchdog has reportedly requested copies of documents that would lay bare the details of data-sharing contracts the app developers had with the social media giant, including fees and commissions the sides have exchanged in the course of their business relationships.

Also on rt.com Facebook execs planned to snoop on Android users to increase revenues, leaked emails show

The letters with requests have been forwarded to the developers of 11 apps that were exposed in the Wall Street Journal report last week as reporting back to Facebook the most intimate details of users' lives without their explicit knowledge.

A letter sent personally to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly demands that he provide a list of all companies with built-in Facebook software that generously shared the data with Facebook within the last three years, Fox News reported, citing a person familiar with the course of the investigation, which was kick-started by NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week.

READ MORE: ‘In-house fake news shop’ – Facebook facing new scandal and losing friends

Among the demands, Facebook is to compile a list of all New Yorkers that might have had their data siphoned by the social media network.

The latest data privacy scandal to plague Facebook stems from a bombshell report by the Wall Street Journal, which tested several popular apps with millions of users and found that some of them transfer user information the second he or she makes a new entry – without needing the customer to be logged in to Facebook or to be a user at all.

Some of the most eye-catching examples included Flo Health Inc.'s Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker, a popular women's health app with over 25 million users, and Instant Heart Rate, the most popular heart-rate app on IOS.

The report on the new alleged privacy breach by Facebook has drawn fire from New York authorities, with Cuomo denouncing the reported data vacuuming as an "outrageous abuse of privacy" and calling for federal regulators to look into the report.

When asked for comment, Facebook sought to distance itself from the alleged violation of user privacy, stressing that it is the app developers' responsibility to make sure no sensitive data goes to Facebook.

Also on rt.com Senate committee wants to grill Zuckerberg over Facebook data scandal

"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," the company said, noting that it makes efforts to delete all data that was not meant to be shared.

Confronted by the WSJ, Google, which owns Android OS, said it has a policy in place which requires apps to "disclose the type of parties to which any personal or sensitive user data is shared."

Apple also said that it requires apps to seek "prior user consent" for collecting data, noting that developers who flaunt the rules face harsh punishment.

It is far from being the only privacy-related scandal that Facebook has been grappling with recently. Leaked court documents revealed last week that Facebook enabled its Android app to track and collect data from customers to boost advertising revenue.

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