Federal prosecutors are investigating Facebook’s data deals with phonemakers

Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into the Facebook data deals they made with large technology companies, The New York Times reported today.

According to Times a grand jury in New York has been conducting the investigation and cited records of "at least two" large companies that manufacture smartphones. The companies closed agreements with Facebook to access user data such as friend lists and contact information, without the explicit consent of their users.

"It has already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, including by the Department of Justice," said a Facebook spokesperson The Verge . "As we have said before, we are cooperating with investigators and taking those probes seriously, we provide public testimony, we answered questions and we promised that we will continue to do so."

The agreements were first reported last June, after ] Times discovered that Facebook was sharing user data with manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung and Blackberry.The agreements were made to help Facebook create applications for the respective devices of the companies.The purpose of the movement was to help Facebook and the companies that build the devices that people use to access the Facebook products It is not clear if these companies are the ones currently being investigated by the prosecutors

It is also not clear when the investigation began or when the grand jury was appointed Facebook has been under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission during A few months after its Cambridge Analytica scandal that resulted in a third-party research application that obtained data from approximately 87 million Facebook users. It is reported that Facebook will likely face a multi-billion dollar fine due to the scandal and subsequent data breaches that occurred.

The Department of Justice also began a specific investigation of Cambridge Analytica on Facebook. After the scandal, US lawmakers held hearings and began lobbying technology company executives about their data practices. Leaders in Congress have called for a general legislation on data privacy by the end of this year.

Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company would become a model that prioritizes privacy by merging the underlying infrastructure of its messaging applications.

Updated on 3/13/19 8:50 p.m. ET: Updated to include a Facebook statement.

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