Bob Menéndez Questions Facebook on Pursuing Customer’s Bank Data
Senators Bob Menéndez (D-NJ) and John Kennedy (R-LA), both members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, sent a bipartisan letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, expressing their deep concerns regarding reports that the social media giant has been courting big banks, asking for detailed financial information about their customers. A report from The Wall Street Journal last month indicates that Facebook saw its Messenger platform as a siphon for the sensitive financial data of its users, information it would not otherwise have access to unless a customer interacted with, say, a banking institution over chat. According to the WSJ, not only did the banks find Facebook’s methods obtrusive, but the companies also pushed back against the social network and, in some cases, moved conversations off Messenger to avoid handing Facebook any sensitive data. Among the financial firms Facebook is said to have argued with about customer data are American Express, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. “Data privacy and cybersecurity are more important than ever, and we believe that you owe it to the American people to properly secure the data you currently possess, before you obtain data from a third party,” the Senators wrote. “Less than a year after Americans learned that Cambridge Analytica, gained access to private information on more than 50 million Facebook users, we have concerns that you have not properly secured user data.” The Senators requested that Facebook respond by October 19th if they have entered into potential data-sharing deals with financial institutions and what additional data privacy measures they plan to implement before acquiring consumer banking data, if any, among other important questions. Read the full letter here.