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Chair comments on the New York Times Facebook investigation

19 December 2018

Damian Collins MP, Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee commented on the New York Times investigation published today:

“This latest investigation adds to the evidence published earlier this month by the DCMS select Committee, from documents we received from the American app developer, Six4Three.

“The investigation shows that Facebook offers preferential access to user data to some of its major corporate partners. The scale of the business these companies do with Facebook underpins the value their relationship. Facebook rewards these firms with data privileges that other organisations to not enjoy.
“We have to seriously challenge the claim by Facebook that they are not selling user data. They may not be letting people take it away by the bucket load, but they do reward companies with access to data that others are denied, if they place a high value on the business they do together. This is just another form of selling. We remain concerned as well about Facebook's ability to police what happens to user data when it is shared with developers, as was highlighted by the Cambridge Analytica data breach.

“Facebook should come back in front of the Committee to explain how their policies work on access to user data, and whether policies are a breach of data privacy law, as it would appear that user data was made available to firms without the informed consent of the user having been given. I feel that we have been given misleading responses by the company when we have asked these questions during previous evidence sessions.

“The Competition authorities should also investigate how Facebook decides which companies have access to user data and which don't. Given the dominant market position they enjoy in social media, this gives real concerns about whether they are behaving as a monopoly, exercising their considerable power to further dominate the commercial environment in which they trade; making some businesses, and breaking others in the process.”

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