Facebook is being sued by the Australian Information Commissioner over the effects of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that rocked the site in 2018.
“The Australian Information Commissioner has lodged proceedings against Facebook in the Federal Court, alleging the social media platform has committed series and/or repeated interferences with privacy in contravention of Australian privacy law,” they said.
The Commissioner alleges that personal information of around 311,127 Australian Facebook users was exposed to be sold for purposes including political profiling, well outside users’ expectations. The personal information of these Facebook users was disclosed to the This is Your Digital Life and was in breach of the country’s Privacy Act 1998.
The statement of claim alleged that from March 2014 to May 2015, Facebook disclosed the personal information of Australian Facebook users to This is Your Digital Life which was a breach of Australian Privacy Principle 6. The claim also alleges that Facebook did not take reasonable steps during this period to protect user-information from unauthorized disclosure, which was a breach of Australian Privacy Principle 11.
Australia’s Federal Court can impose a civil penalty of up to $1,700,000 for each serious/or repeated interference with privacy as per the penalty rate applicable in 2014-2015.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal hit Facebook hard. 87 million people were affected and this led to the wiping of over $100 billion of Facebook’s market capitalization at some point. In 2018, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office had announced that they intended to fine the company £500,000 over the scandal and in 2019, the Federal Trade Commission voted to approve fining Facebook around $5 billion over the issue.