The Australian privacy regulator reportedly filed a lawsuit against Facebook and accused it of sharing the personal details of 311,127 people to political consultant Cambridge Analytica (CA) without their knowledge. As per reports, the case was lodged in the federal court on March 9 and the Australian commissioner Angelene Falk alleged that the social media giant committed serious and repeated interferences. She further claimed that the personal information of Australian Facebook users was disclosed for political profiling via a survey product, 'This Is Your Digital Life'.
Falk in a statement said that the design of the Facebook platform meant that users were unable to exercise reasonable choice and control about how their personal information was disclosed. According to international media reports, the data included people's names, date of birth, email addresses, city location, friends list, page likes and Facebook messages for those who granted the app access to the messages. Falk further reportedly said that Facebook's default settings facilitated the disclosure of personal information, including sensitive information, at the expense of privacy.
The lawsuit sought unspecified damages, however, each breach of privacy law could draw a maximum penalty of AUS $1.7 million. It is expected that the fine would amount AUS $529 billion if the court awarded the maximum for each of the 311,127 instances. Falk further added that 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.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal made global headlines in 2018 as it reportedly affected 87 million users worldwide. It further also led to severe scrutiny of Facebook over its practices of protecting user data. Back in December 2019, a US regulator also said that the British political consulting firm also deceived consumers about the collection of Facebook Inc data which was used for targeting and profiling of people.
The Federal Trade Commission found that the British firm engaged in deceptive practices relating to its participation in the EU-US Privacy Shield framework which is a pact on the cross border transfer of personal data. Accusations that Facebook violated a 2012 decree by inappropriately sharing information belonging to 87 Million users with Cambridge Analytica led to a probe by FTC into both technology giants. The company has also been accused of micro-targeting US voters with carefully tailored messages about trump helping in his victory in 2016 US presidential elections.