Criminal investigation into Facebook deals with Apple, Amazon, Microsoft

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Facebook is under criminal investigation for massive data deals between the social media giant and numerous world's biggest technology firms, according to a Wednesday evening report on the New York Times.

"We are co-operating with investigators and take those probes seriously", a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider.

"We've provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged that we will continue to do so", Facebook said in a statement.

Federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into data-sharing deals struck between Facebook and makers of mobile computing devices like smartphones and tablets, reports the New York Times.

The social network's handling of user data has been a flashpoint for controversy since it admitted a year ago that Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy, used an app that may have hijacked the private details of 87 million users.

In addition to looking at the data deals, the probes focus on disclosures that the company shared the user data of 87 million people with Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting firm that worked with US President Donald Trump's campaign.

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Most of those partnerships have ended over the last several years.

Facebook gave companies including Netflix, Spotify, Microsoft, Sony and Amazon the ability to access user data long after it had stopped sharing data with most third-parties, the Times revealed.

It wasn't immediately clear what the grand jury was focused on or when its investigation began.

News of the controversial agreements emerged in June when the Times reported that Facebook had agreed to provide access to large amounts of user data to at least 60 different device makers - including companies like Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and BlackBerry. News of the subpoena comes at a bad moment for Facebook. The US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of NY declined to confirm or deny the investigation's existence.

Facebook is already facing the prospect of multi-billion dollar fines to settle privacy investigations by the US Federal Trade Commission and other agencies.

The United States Department of Justice declined to comment on the report.

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