After the emergence of reports that Facebook allowed a Russian company to access the social network’s users’ data, top Democratic lawmakers on the Senate and House intelligence committees said this relationship needs to be further scrutinized.
Senator Mark Warner and Representative Adam Schiff were commenting on a CNN report which said the Kremlin-tied Mail.Ru Group developed applications allowing it to gather data on Facebook users without their explicit knowledge.
Schiff told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” Wednesday that prior to the CNN report his committee was unaware of the company’s access to Facebook data, which he said might have been obtained by the Russian government.
Schiff further stressed that “if the Kremlin take interest in data of any Russian company has, those Russian companies are not in a position to say ‘no’.”
Warner on his part said that if there is truth in reports that Mail.Ru had a number of apps collecting user data, it was essential that they “determine what user information was shared with Mail.Ru and what may have been done with the captured data.”
Although Facebook confirmed the information, it said that it hasn’t found any evidence to date that the Mail.Ru Group had misused Facebook user data. The company also refused to say whether it has the ability to determine how the Russian company used data derived from its platform.
Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year when it was disclosed that the company also collected data from Facebook users, the social network’s apps came under intense scrutiny.
The Russian internet conglomerate Mail.Ru Group is controlled by a company founded by Alisher Usmanov, who was included on a January list the U.S. Treasury Department published of Russian billionaires with ties to the Kremlin.