Secret Facebook documents show it was warned about a potentially huge data issue involving Russia back in 2014
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
- A Facebook engineer warned in 2014 about a potentially huge data issue involving Russia, according to a lawmaker who reviewed a cache of sealed Facebook documents.
- The engineer reportedly warned that entities with Russian IP addresses used a Pinterest API key to pull over three billion data points a day.
- UK lawmaker Damian Collins asked Facebook policy chief Richard Allan if the potential data breach was reported. Allan did not answer.
A Facebook engineer warned in 2014 about a potentially huge data issue involving Russia, according to secret documents seized by British Parliament last week.
UK politician Damian Collins has reviewed the papers, which stem from a protracted legal battle between Facebook and app developer Six4Three.
He disclosed the potential breach at an International Grand Committee hearing on Tuesday, during which Facebook was grilled on its sequence of scandals.
Summarizing an element of the documents, Collins said: "An engineer at Facebook notified the company in October 2014 that entities with Russian IP addresses had been using a Pinterest API key to pull over three billion data points a day through the Ordered Friends API."
He asked Facebook's policy chief Richard Allan, who was giving evidence in Mark Zuckerberg's place after the CEO refused to show up, if the matter was reported to an external body at the time.
"Was that reported or was that just kept, as so often seems to be the case, was that just kept in the family and not talked about?" Collins asked.
Allan did not answer the question and said the information contained in the documents in Collins' possession was "at best partial, at worst misleading."
Collins said the data issue was raised in an email from a Facebook engineer. He asked Allan to report back to the committee with more information on the matter.
Details of the issue are scant, but Collins clearly feels it is a matter of public interest. Facebook is still dealing with the fallout from the giant Cambridge Analytica scandal, during which the information of 87 million users was compromised.
The secret Facebook documents will remain secret - for now
Collins secured the secret Facebook documents from Ted Kramer, the founder of software company Six4Three, who obtained them as part of legal action his firm is taking against Facebook in California. Six4Three claims its app, Pikinis, was killed when Facebook stopped app developers from accessing Facebook friend data in 2015.
Kramer was compelled to hand over the evidence on a visit to London. After initially refusing, he was escorted to Parliament, where he was told he could face a fine or imprisonment if he failed to produce the documents.
The documents are under seal by court order in California, but could be published by Collins using UK parliamentary privilege. But Collins said on Tuesday that he will not be publishing the documents for now.
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