digital privacy

Facebook pacts with device makers allowed companies to access data of users, friends: New York Times

In April, the social media company started ending the agreements though most of them still remain in effect.

Social media giant Facebook signed data-sharing agreements with at least 60 device makers, including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung, allowing these companies access to the data of users and their friends without their explicit consent even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders, The New York Times reported on Monday.

The agreements allowed the social media company expand its reach and let the phone makers offer customers popular Facebook features. In April, Facebook started ending the agreements though most of them still remain in effect.

The company has been under intense scrutiny in the past few months after it became public that British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had accessed private information of 87 million Facebook users. The company also failed to identify alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the United States.

Senior Facebook officials, however, defended the data-sharing agreements and claimed that they do no violate the US Federal Trade Commission’s 2011 consent decree and are consistent with the company’s privacy policies. “These partnerships work very differently from the way in which app developers use our platform,” Ime Archibong, a Facebook vice president, told The New York Times.

Though the company claimed that the company’s device partners can use the data to only provide “the Facebook experience”, these companies can access data about a user’s Facebook friends, even those who have denied the social media company permission to share information with third parties. “It is like having door locks installed, only to find out that the locksmith also gave keys to all of his friends so they can come in and rifle through your stuff without having to ask you for permission,” Ashkan Soltani, a research and privacy consultant, told the newspaper.

The partnerships were briefly mentioned in documents the company submitted to German legislators investigating its privacy practices. Facebook released the documents last month, but provided the lawmakers with the name of only one partner – BlackBerry – and little information about how its agreement with the device maker worked.

Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, one of the legislators who questioned Facebook Vice President for Global Public Policy Joel Kaplan in April, said the data partnership violated the privacy of users. “What we have been trying to determine is whether Facebook has knowingly handed over user data elsewhere without explicit consent,” Winkelmeier-Becker told The New York Times. “I would never have imagined that this might even be happening secretly via deals with device makers. BlackBerry users seem to have been turned into data dealers, unknowingly and unwillingly.”

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

Play

Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.