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Australia Sues Facebook For Data Breach Of 300K Citizens In Cambridge Analytica Case

The office of Australian Information Commissioner Angelene Falk has sued Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) for an alleged data breach of citizens in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Benzinga · 03/09/2020 09:30

The office of Australian Information Commissioner Angelene Falk has sued Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) for an alleged data breach of citizens in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

What Happened

The lawsuit filed in the Federal Court of Australia alleges that the social media company violated the country's Privacy Act of 1988 when it disclosed information of about 311,127 Australian citizens to a third-party app for a purpose other than for which the information was collected.

The OIAC said that between March 2014 and May 2015, Facebook disclosed the personal data of these users to "This is Your Digital Life" app, even though they didn't sign up for the app themselves.

"All entities operating in Australia must be transparent and accountable in the way they handle personal information, in accordance with their obligations under Australian privacy law," Falk said in a statement.

"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."

The commissioner's office could seek a civil penalty against Facebook, which carries a maximum fine of $1.1 million (1.7 million Australian dollars), the statement noted.

Why It Matters

The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal uncovered in early 2018 was one of the most massive data breaches in digital media's history, and significantly influenced the public discourse around data privacy.

British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica was reported to harvest the data of Facebook users, without their consent, and used the information to influence politics in the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries.

According to Facebook, the data of as many as 87 million users were affected globally. The Mark Zuckerberg-led company reached a $5 billion settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in the case, July last year.

Facebook also reached a $646,000 settlement with the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office in October over the data breach of the country's citizens.

Price Action

Facebook's shares closed 2.24% lower at $181.02 on Friday and traded further 0.6% lower in the after-hours at $179.98.