Airtel and music streaming app Saavn were among select firms that received special exemptions from social media major Facebook to obtain user data even after it discontinued the access in 2015, according to the submissions made by the social media giant to the US Congress.
Documents revealed that Airtel is among other 52 companies authorised to use Facebook user data to create such services, which allowed the social media giant to increase its reach among users. According to Facebook, 38 of these 52 partnerships have already been discontinued.
The information was revealed by Facebook’s 750-page document, which was addressed to Greg Walden, chairman US Energy and Commerce Committee, Ranking Member Frank Pallone and other members of the Committee.
The document answered nearly 2000 questions that were raised during the Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional hearing and was handed over on June 29.
“Integration partners were not permitted to use data received through Facebook APIs for independent purposes unrelated to the approved integration without user consent,” Facebook said in its document.
“The matter pertains to the year 2010 when Airtel was granted access to data by Facebook as an App developer. The project ended in 2013 and so did the access to the data. We confirm that the data was used only for our internal purposes. We take data privacy extremely seriously and follow a zero tolerance policy on the same” Airtel spokesperson said.
Even according to Facebook its partnership with Airtel is no longer in force.
“At that time we made clear that existing apps would have a year to transition at which point they would be forced to migrate to the more restricted API and be subject to Facebook’s new review and approval protocols. The vast majority of companies were required to make the changes by May 2015,” Facebook said.
Saavn is among those companies who were given time till May 2015 to comply with rules according to Facebook.
Facebook in its submission said Saavn and others were given “less than six months beyond May 2015 to come into compliance”.
Saavn did not respond to email queries.
Facebook is investigating every app that had access to large amounts of information before it changed its policies in 2014. So far Facebook has suspended nearly 200 apps during investigation and will ban them if it finds evidence of wrongdoing.
The other companies include Microsoft, Apple, Blackberry, Lenovo and Samsung but their access to data ended in year 2013.