If Facebook thought of Cambridge Analytica as a yesteryear horror flick that was a one time thing, it may have to think twice. Almost four years after the shocking Cambridge Analytica revelation and Facebook’s alleged involvement in the same came to light, the social media behemoth is being sued for the same reason, in Australia.
Facebook is being sued by the Australian privacy regulator for providing political consultant Cambridge Analytica access to the personal details of about 300,000 users within the country. According to the law suit filed on Monday, the social media site has been held responsible for serious interference with privacy. Facebook allegedly passed on collected users’ data to the ‘This is Your Digital Life’ app by Cambridge Analytica violating the Australian privacy law. The company has already faced (with some now closed) several lawsuits across the world for the very same app.
The data, which included people’s names, dates of birth, email addresses, city locations, friend lists, page likes and Facebook messages, has been used by Cambridge Analytica for political profiling, which was not what the information was collected for. Cambridge Analytica, a British political firm combines misappropriation of digital assets, data mining, data brokerage and data analysis with strategic communication during electoral processes. According to Facebook, 311,127 Australians between 2014 and 2015 had shared data with the app of the British political firm. However, documents reveal that just 53 people in Australia installed the app to begin with. 87 million users worldwide have been suspected to be affected by this breach of privacy.
In the lawsuit, the information commissioner said that the company did not know the exact nature of the information it was providing to Cambridge Analytica, and failed to take reasonable steps to protect the users’ information. The lawsuit solicited unspecified damage adding that each breach of privacy law could cause a penalty of about A$ 1.7 million which would add up to A$529 billion if the maximum is drawn for each case.
Australian Information Commissioner Angelene Falk in a statement said that “the design of the Facebook platform meant that the users were unable to exercise reasonable choice and control about how their personal information was disclosed”.
The social media site claims to have cooperated with the commissioner over the past two years of investigation and to have been “engaged actively” with her office. The company claims to have made major changes to the platform, in consultation with international regulators, to restrict the information available to app developers, implement new governance protocols. It also claims to have built industry-leading controls to help people protect and manage their data.
Last July, Facebook was fined $5 billion by the U.S Federal Court for inappropriately sharing the information of 87 million users with the survey tool of Cambridge Analytica. The consultancy’s clients included U.S President Donald Trump’s election campaign, which was one of the biggest flashpoints in the entire controversy. In the months following this, Cambridge Analytica registered a business in Australia but did not work with a political party.