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  • Writer's pictureMichael Bacina

Australian Privacy Commissioner vs Facebook

Updated: May 2

In early March, the Australian Privacy Commissioner commenced legal proceedings against Facebook.

The Commissioner has alleged that the personal information of Australian Facebook users was disclosed to the creators of an app called This is Your Digital Life for a purpose other than the purpose for which the information was collected, in breach of the Privacy Act 1988.

The This is Your Digital Life app was part of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, with the App not only sharing the details of a user who used the app, but also sharing all of the users Facebook 'friends' with the owners of the app, who then passed on the information to Cambridge Analytica.

Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk 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.

But was shared? The app was given permission to access a user's friend’s Facebook public profile page, date of birth, current city and any Facebook pages those friend's had "liked". In addition an unknown number gave permission to the app to share their own timeline and private messages. That includes all contents of messages to and from that user and their friends.

After the situation was revealed to Facebook in 2015, they demanded Cambridge Analytica delete the data, Cambridge Analytica said they did delete the information, but a later whistleblower alleged they did not.

The case continues but given what has occurred overseas, it will be difficult for Facebook to avoid a fine in these proceedings.


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