Facebook has data-sharing partnerships with at least four Chinese electronics companies, including a manufacturing giant that has a close relationship with China’s government, the social media company said on Tuesday.

The agreements, which date to at least 2010, gave private access to some user data to Huawei, a telecommunications equipment company that has been flagged by American intelligence officials as a national security threat, as well as to Lenovo, Oppo and TCL.

The four partnerships remain in effect, but Facebook officials said in an interview that the company would wind down the Huawei deal by the end of the week.

Facebook gave access to the Chinese device makers along with other manufacturers — including Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry and Samsung — whose agreements were disclosed by The New York Times on Sunday.

The deals were part of an effort to push more mobile users onto the social network starting in 2007, before stand-alone Facebook apps worked well on phones. The agreements allowed device makers to offer some Facebook features, such as address books, “like” buttons and status updates.

Facebook officials said the agreements with the Chinese companies allowed them access similar to what was offered to BlackBerry, which could retrieve detailed information on both device users and all of their friends — including religious and political leanings, work and education history and relationship status.

Huawei used its private access to feed a “social phone” app that let users view messages and social media accounts in one place, according to the officials.

Facebook representatives said the data shared with Huawei stayed on its phones, not the company’s servers.

Senator John Thune, the South Dakota Republican who leads the Commerce Committee, has demanded that Facebook provide Congress with details about its data partnerships. “Facebook is learning hard lessons that meaningful transparency is a high standard to meet,” Mr. Thune said.

Huawei used its private access to feed a “social phone” app that let users view messages and social media accounts in one place, according to the officials.

Facebook representatives said the data shared with Huawei stayed on its phones, not the company’s servers.

Senator John Thune, the South Dakota Republican who leads the Commerce Committee, has demanded that Facebook provide Congress with details about its data partnerships. “Facebook is learning hard lessons that meaningful transparency is a high standard to meet,” Mr. Thune said.

None of the Chinese device makers who have partnerships with Facebook responded to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Huawei, one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world, is a point of national pride for China and is at the vanguard of the country’s efforts to expand its influence abroad. The company was the recipient of billions of dollars in lines of credit from China’s state-owned policy banks, helping to fuel its overseas expansion in Africa, Europe and Latin America. Its founder, Ren Zhengfei, is a former engineer in the People’s Liberation Army.

The United States government has long regarded the company with suspicion, and lawmakers have recommended that American carriers avoid buying the network gear it makes. In January, AT&T walked away from a deal to sell a new Huawei smartphone, the Mate 10.

United States officials are investigating whether Huawei broke American trade controls by dealing with Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria. The Trump administration has taken aim at Huawei and its rival ZTE in recent weeks, and in April the Federal Communications Commission advanced a plan to bar federally subsidized telecom companies from using suppliers that are considered national security threats.

Facebook has not entered into a data-sharing agreement with ZTE, officials at the social network said.

TCL, a consumer electronics firm, has accused the Trump administration of bias against Chinese companies and last June dropped a bid to buy a San Diego-based company that makes routers and other hardware.

Lenovo, a maker of computers and other devices, recently shelved ambitions to acquire BlackBerry after the Canadian government signaled that such a deal could compromise national security.

Nicholas Confessore, Michael Forsythe and Paul Mozur contributed reporting.

 

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Escrito por Paul Sampaio

PAUL SAMPAIO CHEDIAK ALVES é professor, locutor, apresentador de rádio e TV, web designer e diretor fundador da REDE SAMPAIO de Televisão e Sites.

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