New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called on the New York’s Department of State and Department of Financial Services to investigate Facebook after The Wall Street Journal reported late last week it could be getting its hand on much more personal information than smartphone users were previously aware of.
According to a report in Reuters, the data about smartphone users could include health data and other sensitive information. Cuomo’s move was prompted by a Wall Street Journal report in which the paper said that based on testing, Facebook collected personal information from the other apps on users’ smartphones within a few seconds after the data was entered. The Wall Street Journal reported several apps shared data such as weight, blood pressure and when a person was ovulating with the social media giant. The paper went on to note that Facebook could get access to the data in certain instances when the person was not logged on to Facebook or didn’t even have an account with the company.
Governor Cuomo told Reuters that Facebook’s actions were an “outrageous abuse of privacy” and that federal regulators needed to get involved. The report noted that while the state’s financial services department isn’t usually the department to supervise social media companies, it is getting involved with digital privacy in the financial market and therefore may have oversight of some of the app providers that are sending data to the social media company.
In a statement to Reuters, Facebook said it would help New York officials in the inquiry, but pointed out that The Wall Street Journal story was focused on how other apps use the data of people to develop ads, not Facebook. “As (the WSJ) reported, we require the other app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us, and we prohibit app developers from sending us sensitive data. We also take steps to detect and remove data that should not be shared with us,” the company said.
The inquiry on the part of New York officials is just the latest in a slew of investigations and regulatory inquiries into the company and how it handles customers’ data. It also under scrutiny for allowing fake news and incendiary content to spread on its platform.