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A Facebook Inc. investigation by the U.S. Justice Department has broadened to include a grand jury, according to a person familiar with the matter, signaling an escalation in the ongoing federal probes of the company’s data-sharing practices.
A federal grand jury in New York subpoenaed records from at least two makers of smartphones and other electronic devices that had entered into partnerships with Facebook, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified people familiar with the requests. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, New York, declined to comment. Facebook said in July it had received questions from U.S. agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI, and was cooperating.
“It has already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, including by the Department of Justice,” a Facebook representative said in a statement. “As we’ve said before, we are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously. We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged that we will continue to do so.”
The social-media company is already under investigation by numerous governments around the world over alleged privacy violations stemming from its relationship with Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that obtained the data of millions of the site’s users without their consent. The FTC said last month it was creating a task force to look into possible anticompetitive conduct by Facebook, Alphabet Inc.’s Google and other technology companies. Several state attorneys general also are probing Facebook’s privacy practices.