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 

The cost of setting up an employee-friendly office in Mumbai

And a new age, cost-effective solution to common grievances.

A lot has been theorised about employee engagement and what motivates employees the most. Perks, bonuses and increased vacation time are the most common employee benefits extended to valuable employees. But experts say employees’ wellbeing is also intimately tied with the environment they spend the bulk of the day in. Indeed, the office environment has been found to affect employee productivity and ultimately retention.

According to Gensler’s Workplace Index, workplace design should allow employees to focus, collaborate, learn and socialise for maximum productivity, engagement and overall wellbeing. Most offices lag on the above counts, with complaints of rows of cluttered desks, cramped work tables and chilled cubicles still being way too common.

But well-meaning employers wanting to create a truly employee-centric office environment meet resistance at several stages. Renting an office space, for example, is an obstacle in itself, especially with exorbitant rental rates prevalent in most business districts. The office space then needs to be populated with, ideally, ergonomic furniture and fixtures. Even addressing common employee grievances is harder than one would imagine. It warrants a steady supply of office and pantry supplies, plus optimal Internet connection and functioning projection and sound systems. A well-thought-out workspace suddenly begins to sound quite cost prohibitive. So, how can an employer balance employee wellbeing with the monthly office budget?

Co-working spaces have emerged as a viable alternative to traditional workspaces. In addition to solving a lot of the common problems associated with them, the co-working format also takes care of the social and networking needs of businesses and their employees.

WeWork is a global network of workspaces, with 10 office spaces in India and many more opening this year. The co-working giant has taken great care to design all its premises ergonomically for maximum comfort. Its architects, engineers and artists have custom-designed every office space while prioritising natural light, comfort, productivity, and inspiration. Its members have access to super-fast Internet, multifunction printers, on-site community teams and free refreshments throughout the day. In addition, every WeWork office space has a dedicated community manager who is responsible for fostering a sense of community. WeWork’s customised offerings for enterprises also work out to be a more cost-effective solution than conventional lease setting, with the added perks of WeWork’s brand of service.

The video below presents the cost breakdown of maintaining an office space for 10 employees in Vikhroli, Mumbai and compares it with a WeWork membership.

Play

To know more about WeWork and its office spaces in India, click here.

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