Skip to main content

Facebook sued by Australian privacy regulator over Cambridge Analytica scandal

Facebook is facing yet more legal issues stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The Australian Information Commissioner is bringing a Federal Court lawsuit against the social media giant.

Facebook is accused of disclosing the personal data of more than 300,000 users, which is a breach of Australian privacy laws. The Information Commissioner’s office has been working on an investigation of the issue for two years and is seeking a fine of up to $1.7 million Australian dollars ($1.1 million U.S.).

Related Videos

The issue at the heart of the case is the “This Is Your Digital Life” survey tool which ran on Facebook’s platform. From 2014 to 2015, the personality quiz hoovered up data from unsuspecting users which was inappropriately shared by the Cambridge Analytica firm. The data included names, email addresses, locations, birth dates, friend information, what pages users had liked, and in some cases, Facebook messages.

“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.,” Information Commissioner Angelene Falk said in a statement. “Facebook’s default settings facilitated the disclosure of personal information, including sensitive information, at the expense of privacy.”

The number of Australians affected by the issue was small compared to the global impact, in which it was estimated that a total of 87 million users were affected. However, the Australian Information Commissioner said that Facebook had failed to provide information on which Australian users were affected.

In response, Facebook said that it has made changes to its platform to improve privacy and allow users more control over their data. “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,” a Facebook representative said in a statement to Reuters. “We’re unable to comment further as this is now before the Federal Court.”

Other countries have taken action against Facebook for its role in the privacy scandal, including a $5 billion settlement reached between the company and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and a 500,000 British pound fine from the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office.

Editors' Recommendations

What’ll happen to your WhatsApp account if you don’t agree to new privacy policy

WhatsApp recently announced it would be changing its privacy policy, in a move that has many users worried about how much of their data will be shared with WhatsApp's parent company, Facebook. Now, the service has revealed what will happen to the accounts of users who don't agree to the new policy by the May 15 deadline.

TechCrunch contacted WhatsApp for more details on what would happen to users' accounts if they didn't agree to the new privacy policy. It reports that WhatsApp will "slowly ask" its users to agree to the new privacy changes, warning that they need to do so to continue having full access to the app's features. Users who decline to accept the new policy will be able to continue using the app for a few weeks, but only in a limited way. “For a short time, these users will be able to receive calls and notifications, but will not be able to read or send messages from the app,” the company told TechCrunch.

Read more
Facebook is reportedly making a smartwatch, and it’ll have health features
facebook home gallery 1

Facebook could be planning to suck up even more of your data, according to reports that the tech giant is working on a smartwatch with health-related features.

According to sources who are directly involved in the project, The Information reports that Facebook wants to make its own competitor to the Apple Watch. The company wants to start selling the device as early as next year, suggesting that development is already well underway.

Read more
Elon Musk advises people to ditch Facebook and use Signal
elon musk stylized image

Tech CEO Elon Musk has urged his almost 42 million Twitter followers to use secure messaging app Signal instead of Facebook products. In a series of tweets, Musk shared a meme referencing Facebook's role in the spread of misinformation leading to the attack on Congress this week and suggested people should use the Signal app.

Read more