Data sharing among big tech companies and platforms is turning out to be a big business and it all begins with Facebook where users voluntarily offer information about themselves for the world to read, and to be mined with special software looking to build profiles on users.
That data is valuable, and Facebook has been selling it. In the last year, under the radar, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, New York, has been investigating the legality of the practice. This week, public moves were made demonstrating that something is happening that may well impact life as we know it.
A federal grand jury in New York subpoenaed records from at least two makers of smartphones and other electronic devices that had entered into partnerships with Facebook, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified people familiar with the requests. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, New York, declined to comment. Facebook said in July it had received questions from U.S. agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI, and was cooperating.
“It has already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, including by the Department of Justice,” a Facebook representative said in a statement. “As we’ve said before, we are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously. We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged that we will continue to do so.”
Facebook takes the probes seriously, they say, and yet the agreements are still place.
The social media giant is and has been under the microscope by a number of governments for its data mining and sharing habits, as well as violations of speech laws in a number of nations. In the United States, several state attorneys general offices are also investigating privacy violations and practices.
On Tuesday, the platform experienced wide-ranging outages.