Facebook confirms data sharing with Chinese companies, including Huawei and Oppo

Agencies
June 6, 2018

Washington, Jun 6: Facebook Inc said Tuesday it has data sharing partnerships with at least four Chinese companies including Huawei, the world`s third largest smartphone maker, which has come under scrutiny from US intelligence agencies on security concerns.

The social media company said Huawei, computer maker Lenovo Group, and smartphone makers OPPO and TCL Corp were among about 60 companies worldwide that received access to some user data after they signed contracts to re-create Facebook-like experiences for their users.

Members of Congress raised concerns after The New York Times reported on the practice on Sunday, saying that data of users` friends could have been accessed without their explicit consent. Facebook denied that and said the data access was to allow its users to access account features on mobile devices.

More than half of the partnerships have already been wound down, Facebook said. It said on Tuesday it would end the Huawei agreement later this week. It is ending the other three partnerships with Chinese firms as well.

Chinese telecommunications companies have come under scrutiny from US intelligence officials who argue they provide an opportunity for foreign espionage and threaten critical US infrastructure, something the Chinese have consistently denied.

Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who asked Facebook if Huawei was among the companies that received user data, said in a statement that the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee had raised concerns about Huawei dating back in 2012.

"The news that Facebook provided privileged access to Facebook’s API 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," Warner said.

API, or application program interface, essentially specifies how software components should interact.

A Facebook executive said the company had carefully managed the access it gave to the Chinese companies.

"Facebook along with many other U.S. tech companies have worked with them and other Chinese manufacturers to integrate their services onto these phones," Francisco Varela, vice president of mobile partnerships for Facebook, said in a statement. "Facebook`s integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, OPPO and TCL were controlled from the get-go — and we approved the Facebook experiences these companies built."

Varela added that "given the interest from Congress, we wanted to make clear that all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei`s servers."

RESPONSE DEMANDED FROM ZUCKERBERG

Earlier on Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee demanded that Facebook`s chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, respond to a report that user data was shared with at least 60 device manufacturers, weeks after the social media company said it would change its practices after a political firm got access to data from millions of users.

Senators John Thune, the committee`s Republican chairman, and Bill Nelson, the ranking Democrat, on Tuesday wrote to Zuckerberg after The New York Times reported that manufacturers were able to access data of users` friends even if the friends denied permission to share the information with third parties.

In April, the Federal Communications Commission proposed new rules that would bar purchases by government programs from companies that it says pose a security threat to U.S. telecoms networks, a move aimed at Huawei and ZTE Corp, China’s No. 2 telecommunications equipment maker.

The Pentagon in May ordered retail outlets on U.S. military bases to stop selling Huawei and ZTE phones, citing potential security risks.

ZTE was not among the firms that received access to Facebook data, but it has been the subject of U.S. national security concerns.

The letter asks if Facebook audited partnerships with the device manufacturers under a 2011 consent order with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It also asked if Zuckerberg wanted to revise his testimony before the Senate in April.

Facebook said it looks forward to addressing any questions the Commerce Committee has.

Facebook still has not answered hundreds of written questions submitted from members of Congress after Zuckerberg`s testimony in April, according to congressional staff.

The data sharing mentioned in the Times story was used over the last decade by about 60 companies, including Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc, Blackberry Ltd, HTC Corp, Microsoft Corp and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Ime Archibong, Facebook vice president of product partnerships, wrote in a blog post on June 3.

The FTC confirmed in March that it was investigating Facebook`s privacy practices.

Facebook allowed Apple and other device makers to have "deep" access to users` personal data without their consent, according to the Times.

The Times said Facebook allowed companies access to the data of users` friends without their explicit consent, even after it had declared it would no longer share the information with outsiders.

Archibong said the data was only shared with device makers in order to improve Facebook users` access to the information. "These partners signed agreements that prevented people’s Facebook information from being used for any other purpose than to recreate Facebook-like experiences."

Regulators and authorities in several countries have increased scrutiny of Facebook after it failed to protect the data of some 87 million users that was shared with now-defunct political data firm Cambridge Analytica.

Two Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee, Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal, on Monday also wrote to Zuckerberg.

Archibong said the cases were "very different" from the use of data by third-party developers in the Cambridge row.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said on Monday the "data-sharing partnerships with other corporations" is part of the ongoing investigation into the reported misuse of Facebook user data by Cambridge Analytica.

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News Network
June 6,2021

New Delhi, June 6: A Delhi government hospital on Saturday issued a circular asking its nursing staff not to use Malayalam at work as "maximum patients and colleagues do not know this language" which it said causes a lot of inconvenience.

The circular issued by the Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (GIPMER), one of the leading facilities here, has asked its nurses to use only Hindi and English for communication or face "strict action".

G B Pant nurses’ association president Liladhar Ramchandani claimed it was issued in pursuance of a complaint sent by a patient to a senior officer in the health department, regarding use of Malayalam language at the hospital, while adding that "the union disagrees with the wordings used in the circular".

The circular says, "A complaint has been received regarding Malayalam language being used for communication in working places in GIPMER.

Whereas maximum patient and colleagues do not know this language and feel helpless causing a lot of inconvenience".

"So, it is directed to all nursing personnel to use only Hindi and English for communication.

Otherwise serious action will be taken,” it reads.

Ramchandani, also the secretary general of Delhi Nurses Federation said, "As a language's name, Malayalam, has been inserted in the circular, many will take offence".

He also claimed that this circular was "consequent of the complaint filed by the patient" and "internally, there is no issue among the nurses and the administration".

Many nurses at various hospitals across India, hail from Kerala, with Malayalam being their native language. The circular has drawn sharp criticism from other nursing unions too.

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News Network
June 15,2021

New Delhi, June 15: The Hajj Committee of India on Tuesday announced that all the applications for the pilgrimage this year stand cancelled as Saudi Arabia has stated that only a limited number of people residing in the Kingdom will be allowed to perform Haj due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a circular, the committee said that the Ministry of Haj and Umrah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has issued a statement informing that due to coronavirus pandemic conditions it has decided to allow citizens and residents inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia only to attend Haj this year in limited numbers and international Haj has been cancelled.

"Hence it has been decided by the Haj Committee of India that all the applications for Haj 2021 stands cancelled," the circular signed by Haj Committee of India's Chief Executive Officer Maqsood Ahmed Khan read.

Last year also the government had decided that Muslims from India will not travel to Saudi Arabia for Haj 2020 after the Kingdom conveyed that pilgrims should not be sent in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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News Network
June 12,2021

Riyadh, June 12: Saudi Arabia said it will limit registration for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage to citizens and residents of the Kingdom in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ministries of health and Hajj announced Saturday that a total of 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage this year.

It stressed that those wishing to perform Hajj must be free of any chronic diseases, and to be within the ages from 18 to 65 years for those vaccinated against the virus according to the kingdom’s vaccination measures.  

Hajj pilgrims should be fully vaccinated, or those who took one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before, or those who are vaccinated after recovering from coronavirus infection.

The decision is “based on the Kingdom’s constant keenness to enable the guests and visitors at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque to perform the rituals of Hajj and Umrah,” the ministry said. “The Kingdom puts human health and safety first.”

The hajj begins mid-July. 

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