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Facebook engineer warned company about Russia data issue in 2014



Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark

Photo by Chip
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  • 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.”

Read more: Mark Zuckerberg humiliated by
international lawmakers for failing to give evidence on Facebook

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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