Senate panel to ask Facebook about data access report

The social network allegedly provided dozens of device makers with access to large amounts of user data.

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Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg testifies during a US House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing about Facebook in April.

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The head of the US Senate Commerce Committee wants Facebook to answer questions about a New York Times report that alleges the social networking giant provided dozens of device makers with access to large amounts of user data.

"The Commerce Committee will be sending Facebook a letter seeking additional information" about issues including transparency and privacy risks, Republican Senator John Thune said Monday in a statement to Reuters.

The New York Times reported Sunday that Facebook had access agreements with at least 60 different device makers, including companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and BlackBerry. The data of users' friends was also often made available without explicit consent, according to the report, raising compliance issues with a 2011 consent decree from the Federal Trade Commission.

Facebook has been under scrutiny since the revelation in March that consultancy Cambridge Analytica had misused Facebook user data in the lead up to the 2016 US presidential election. Since then, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has testified in front of Congress and the European Parliament to answer questions about Facebook's handling of user data.

"New revelations that Facebook provided access to users' personal information, including religion, political preferences, and relationship status, to dozens of mobile device manufacturers without users' explicit consent are deeply concerning," two Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee, Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal, said in a letter seen by Reuters.

Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, said in a tweet late Sunday it "sure looks like Zuckerberg lied to Congress about whether users have 'complete control' over who sees our data on Facebook. This needs to be investigated and the people responsible need to be held accountable."

A Facebook spokesman said: "We look forward to addressing any questions the Commerce Committee may have."

Thune's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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