Source: Russian app had access to data of millions of US Facebook users

CNN's Drew Griffin reports.

Posted: Jul 12, 2018 11:17 AM
Updated: Jul 12, 2018 11:28 AM

The top Democrats on the Senate and House intelligence committees said this week that Facebook's relationship with a Russian internet conglomerate warrant further scrutiny.

Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Adam Schiff were commenting on a CNN report published Tuesday detailing how the Mail.Ru Group, a company with ties to the Kremlin, developed applications that allowed it to gather data on Facebook users without their explicit knowledge.

Schiff told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room" Wednesday that his committee was not aware of the company's access to Facebook data before it was reported by CNN.

He expressed concern that data accessed by Mail.Ru could have been obtained by the Russian government, saying, "if the Kremlin take interest in data of any Russian company has, those Russian companies are not in a position to say 'no.'"

Warner told CNN in a statement on Tuesday, "Now we learn that the largest technology company in Russia, whose executives boast close ties to Vladimir Putin, had potentially hundreds of apps integrated with Facebook, collecting user data. If this is accurate, we need to determine what user information was shared with mail.ru and what may have been done with the captured data."

Facebook apps have attracted scrutiny after it was widely reported earlier this year that an app developer working for Cambridge Analytica in 2014 built an online survey that gathered and harvested data on tens of millions of Americans, most of whom had never downloaded or taken the survey. Cambridge Analytica went on to work for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

The Mail.Ru Group built hundreds of Facebook apps, Facebook confirmed to CNN on Tuesday.

The company says it has found no evidence that the Mail.Ru Group had misused Facebook user data but acknowledged that the investigation is continuing and would not answer if Facebook even has the ability to determine how the Russian company used data derived its platform.

The Mail.Ru Group told CNN it acted in accordance with Facebook's terms and conditions and said it "never harvested any data" from Facebook.

Mail.Ru Group is controlled by USM Holdings, a company founded by Alisher Usmanov, who was included on a list the US Treasury Department published in January of Russian billionaires with ties to the Kremlin.

Russian investor Yuri Milner was the chairman of Mail.Ru Group until he stepped down in 2012. Milner told Forbes he served as a member of then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's innovation commission from 2009 to 2011.

The New York Times reported last year that Milner invested in Facebook and Twitter with hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian state institutions funneled through offshore shell companies, though Milner's companies have since sold those holdings. In interviews for that report, Milner said the Russian government money was no different from other international investments, and he said he focuses on business and philanthropy, not politics.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115088

Reported Deaths: 3255
CountyConfirmedDeaths
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Jackson457884
Rankin394086
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Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
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Warren154855
Monroe150673
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Marshall143129
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Pike138456
Copiah137536
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Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
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Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
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Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 155915

Reported Deaths: 2674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23129377
Mobile16849315
Tuscaloosa10296140
Montgomery10197197
Madison928096
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Baldwin663769
Lee653465
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Franklin205231
Autauga204831
Colbert200532
Russell19443
Blount192525
Chilton186932
Dallas186527
Coffee176311
Dale175151
Covington174029
Escambia172530
Chambers135044
Clarke134317
Pike133513
Tallapoosa131787
Marion107629
Barbour10319
Marengo100822
Butler100740
Winston92213
Geneva9007
Lawrence85032
Pickens84718
Bibb82814
Randolph82316
Hale76730
Washington74412
Clay74112
Cherokee73314
Lowndes70928
Henry7086
Bullock64817
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60630
Perry5896
Fayette57413
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Sumter47221
Choctaw39012
Greene34216
Coosa2033
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