Senator Sees 'Danger' Facebook Had Chinese Device Partnerships

(Bloomberg) -- The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday he saw "a serious danger" that Facebook Inc. shared user data with Chinese device makers.

Facebook has disputed a report published Sunday in The New York Times that claims the company’s deals with about 60 phone and device manufacturers allowed them access to vast amounts of information on users and their friends.

"It seems to me if they are partnering with all of these other telecom providers, it would be very surprising to me if they somehow excluded the Chinese telecom providers," Senator Mark Warner of Virginia said Tuesday, citing Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp.

"I believe it’s a serious danger," Warner said, speaking at a Washington event hosted by the news site Axios and International Business Machines Corp. "I’ve been disappointed that we’ve not gotten a straight answer yet."

Warner also asked whether Facebook shared user information with the companies and whether user information now resides "on a server in China."

A Facebook spokesman didn’t say Tuesday whether the company had deals with Chinese device makers. The company contends its pacts were intended to help phone-makers such as Apple Inc. create their own versions of Facebook apps, which was necessary before phone operating systems relied on app stores.

U.S. lawmakers were skeptical of the company’s explanations of its latest purported data lapse, though, and demanded more accountability.

Senators John Thune and Bill Nelson, the chairman and top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, asked in a letter to Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg dated Tuesday for a full list of device makers with which Facebook had agreements, how the company verifies compliance with the agreements and whether Zuckerberg would like to amend his April testimony to the committee in which he said that users have "complete control" over how their data is shared.

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