Facebook has given access to user data to four Chinese manufacturers, including one that U.S. intelligence officials consider a security threat, according to The New York Times. The Times the social media giant has had an agreement with telecommunications company Huawei since at least 2010.
Facebook said it plans to wind down its deal with Huawei by the end of the week, the Times reports. The three other partnerships with Chinese device makers include Lenovo, Oppo and TCL. The Times reports the the deals helped Facebook solidify its position in the mobile market before Facebook apps worked well on mobile phones.
Facebook told the Times that the data shared with Huawei stayed on its phones, rather than the company's servers.
Late Tuesday, Facebook's vice president of mobile partnerships Francisco Varela, told CBS News in a statement that the social media company's integrations with the Chinese manufacturers "were controlled from the get go -- and we approved the Facebook experiences these companies built."
"Huawei is the third largest mobile manufacturer globally and its devices are used by people all around the world, including in the United States. Facebook along with many other U.S. tech companies have worked with them and other Chinese manufacturers to integrate their services onto these phones," Varela said in an email. "Facebook's integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, OPPO and TCL were controlled from the get go -- and we approved the Facebook experiences these companies built. Given the interest from Congress, we wanted to make clear that all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei's servers."
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, told the Times that he looks forward to "learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers."
In February, senior U.S. intelligence officialsto avoid purchasing phones manufactured by Huawei.
FBI Director Christopher Wray cited the security risks of Huawei during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that month. Wray said the U.S. government is "deeply concerned" about the risks of allowing companies that are "beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values" to gain "positions of power" inside the U.S. telecommunications network.
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