Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, ordered two government agencies on Friday to investigate a media message that Facebook Inc. may consult much more personal information than was previously known to smartphone users, including health and other sensitive data.
The directive for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Department of Financial Services (DFS) of New York came after the Wall Street Journal. Testing revealed that Facebook collected personal information from other apps on users' smartphones within a few seconds of arrival.
The WSJ reported that different apps share sensitive user data, including weight, blood pressure and ovulation with Facebook. The report states that in some cases the company may open data even if the user is not logged in to Facebook or does not have a Facebook account.
In a statement, Cuomo called the practice an "excessive abuse of privacy." He also called on the relevant federal regulators to get involved.
Facebook said in a statement that it would help New York officials in their investigation, but noted that the WSJ report focused on how other apps use people's data to create ads.
"As (the WSJ) reported, we demand from the other app developers that they are clear with their users about the information they share with us and we prohibit app developers from sending us sensitive data, and we also take steps to provide data. detect and remove those that can not be shared with us, "the company said.
Shares on Facebook had a short-lived hit after the newspaper report was published, but closed 1.2 percent.
At the end of January, Cuomo and the Attorney General of New York Letitia James announced an investigation into the failure of Apple Inc. to warn consumers of a FaceTime bug that allowed iPhones users to listen to conversations from others who had not yet made a video call.
Facebook faces a whole host of lawsuits and legal questions about privacy issues, including a US Federal Trade Commission investigation into revelations that Facebook has improperly shared information belonging to 87 million users with the British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
New York's financial services department traditionally does not directly supervise social media companies, but has ventured to digital privacy in the financial sector and could monitor some app providers who send user data to Facebook.
In March, the intention is to implement the country's first cyber security rules with respect to state-regulated financial institutions such as banks, insurers and credit guards.
Last month, DFS said life insurers could use social media messages in the acceptance policy as long as they did not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sexual orientation or other protected classes.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stamp in New York and Katie Paul in San Francisco, editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Tom Brown)
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