NEWS9 March 2020

Australian data regulator takes legal action against Facebook

Asia Pacific News Privacy Public Sector Technology UK

AUSTRALIA – The Australian Information Commissioner has launched federal court action against Facebook over privacy breaches linked to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook smartphone apps_crop

The watchdog alleges personal information of Australian Facebook users was disclosed to the ‘This is your Digital Life’ app from March 2014 to May 2015, in breach of Australian privacy law.

The statement of claim lodged in federal court also alleges that the social network did not take reasonable steps during this period to protect its users’ personal information from unauthorised disclosure.

Angelene Falk, Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, said: “We consider the design of the Facebook platform meant that users were unable to exercise reasonable choice and control about how their personal information was disclosed.

“Facebook’s default settings facilitated the disclosure of personal information, including sensitive information, at the expense of privacy.

“We claim these actions left the personal data of around 311,127 Australian Facebook users exposed to be sold and used for purposes including political profiling, well outside users’ expectations.”

A Facebook spokesperson said the company has been engaging with the OAIC during the last two years as part of its investigation, and said: “We’ve made major changes to our platforms, in consultation with international regulators, to restrict the information available to app developers, implement new governance protocols and build industry-leading controls to help people protect and manage their data. We’re unable to comment further as this is now before the Federal Court.”