Lawmakers in Uproar Over Data-Sharing Pacts Between Facebook, Chinese Firms

Facebook’s data-sharing pacts with Chinese device-makers has Capitol Hill skeptical that CEO Mark Zuckerberg was being fully transparent about the Cambridge Analytica scandal,

The scrutiny was touched off when Facebook shared more data with phone companies than it had previously disclosed — and intensified when Facebook revealed that Huawei was among the companies that had partnerships for access to user information.

Lawmakers and intelligence officials have been warning for years that Huawei and other Chinese tech firms are a national security threat due to their close ties to Beijing, The Hill noted.

"I now have more questions than I've ever had," Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., told The Hill.

"I don't know what he knew and what he withheld and what he didn't withhold and what kind of coaching he got — I can't comment on that. All I'm saying is, if he knew, I believe Mr. Zuckerberg should have shared that information with us,” he added. "It just puts all of this in an entirely new light."

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., also questioned Zuckerberg's testimony in the wake of the new data-sharing revelations.

"Sure looks like Zuckerberg lied to Congress about whether users have 'complete control' over who sees our data on Facebook," he tweeted.

According to The Hill, top members on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and ranking Democrat Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, issued a bipartisan call for "full transparency from Facebook and the entire tech community" following the revelations.

And Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said his panel would send a letter to Facebook demanding more information, The Hill reported.

But Facebook is pushing back.

"Mark spent over 10 hours answering hundreds of questions put to him by lawmakers," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "The arrangements in question had been highly visible for years — with many manufacturers advertising these features. But with fewer and fewer people relying on them, we proactively announced this spring we'd begin winding them down."

The Facebook revelations have also prompted Congress to look at similar arrangements other tech giants — including Google — have with Chinese companies, The Hill reported.

Meanwhile, Walden, in an reiterated his call for more tech CEOs to come testify before his committee, saying Congress is unsatisfied with what it has heard from Facebook and the rest of the industry.

"Silicon Valley would be well served by the CEOs, other than when they're in a crisis situation like Facebook is now, to come and share with us in Congress what their strategies are, what their agreements are, what their recommendations are," Walden said.