Several major Chinese companies, including some accused of involvement in state espionage, were given access to user data on Facebook.
A Facebook testimony released by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on June 29 details data-sharing programs Facebook maintains with 52 technology companies. These include U.S. companies including Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft; South Korean companies including Samsung; Canadian companies including BlackBerry; and others.
The testimony also revealed that Facebook was sharing user data with China’s Huawei, Lenovo, Alibaba, Oppo, and TCL.
The document notes that Facebook has already ended its data sharing partnerships with 38 of the 52 companies, and would end an additional seven by the end of July and another by the end of October.
It states the only data-sharing agreements Facebook will maintain afterward are with Amazon, Apple, and the Swedish high-tech company Tobii, since it has agreements with the companies that go beyond October 2018. It will also maintain partnerships that allow people to receive Facebook notifications on their web browsers, namely Mozilla and China-owned companies Opera and Alibaba.
China’s Huawei has been under fire in many countries, including the United States, over security concerns and its connections to the Chinese Communist Party. Australia passed legislation on June 27 to prevent interference by foreign governments or agents, which may affect Huawei’s business in the country. In the United States, Huawei is under criminal investigation for allegedly violating Iran sanctions.
In China, the Chinese Communist Party maintains strict online censorship policies that can punish people for practicing religion, supporting democracy, or criticizing the ruling regime. Chinese expats are also threatened by this system, since the CCP often harasses or threatens their family members still living in China if they violate these censorship laws abroad.
Under Chinese data laws, even companies not working directly with the Chinese Communist Party are required to grant the regime’s security forces access to their data.