October 7, 2019

RBC denies having ability to see users Facebook messages after NYT report

Royal Bank of Canada said Wednesday that it did not have the power to see the messages of Facebook Inc. users, rejecting part of a newspaper report that alleged the lender had been granted enhanced access by the social media network.The bank said in a statement that its use of the Facebook “platform” had been confined to its work on a feature announced in December of 2013, which allowed customers to send funds to Facebook Messenger contacts through an RBC app.According to a release at the time, the recipient would receive a message and then have to log into their bank’s online portal to deposit the money.“As part of our security and fraud protocols, we needed to uniquely identify the recipient of funds and payments to securely process the transaction and deliver the notification,” RBC said on Wednesday.Remember the internet of the ’90s? That’s what Canada’s outdated data protection laws were meant to handleWashington DC sues Facebook over privacy scandalFacebook discovers photo access bug that may have affected up to 6.8 million users“We did not have the ability to see users’ messages. We decommissioned the service in 2015 and our limited access, which was used strictly to enable our clients’ payments, ended at that time.”The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Facebook had granted companies “more intrusive” access to user data than had been disclosed, and that Facebook had allowed RBC, as well as Netflix Inc. and Spotify Technology S.A., to “read, write and delete” the private messages of users.Facebook said its work was partly to allow access to Facebook and its features on the non-Facebook-made devices or platforms of other companies, which Facebook referred to as “integration partners.”The company also said that most of the related features are now gone.“To be clear: none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission),” said Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, the company’s director of developer platforms and programs, in a blog post.Facebook said its partners did receive access to messages, but that users had to “explicitly” sign in to Facebook before they could use these messaging features. There was no mention of RBC in the response, which used Spotify as an example.“After signing in to your Facebook account in Spotify’s desktop app, you could then send and receive messages without ever leaving the app,” Papamiltiadis added. “Our API (application programming interface) provided partners with access to the person’s messages in order to power this type of feature.”Netflix said in a statement that, as part of its efforts to make the streaming service “more social,” it launched a feature in 2014 allowing members to suggest television shows and movies to Facebook friends using Netflix or Facebook Messenger.“It was never that popular so we shut the feature down in 2015,” Netflix said. “At no time did we access people’s private messages on Facebook, or ask for the ability to do so.”A spokesperson for Canada’s federal banking regulator, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, said it has not issued any guidelines for federally regulated financial institutions that are specific to social media.However, they added, “financial institutions are ultimately responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules and regulations in place when dealing with social media or in the course of their operations.”• Email: gzochodne@nationalpost.com | Twitter: