Facebook is Faced with $529 Billion Lawsuit From Australian Government – Here’s Why

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The Australian government is suing Facebook for violating its country’s privacy laws, and requests damages to the tune of $529 US billion dollars!

The data scandal ‘Cambridge Analytics,’ may have happened years ago, but its aftermath still lingers on.

Privacy Law Violation

The suit was filed with the Australian Federal Court last March 9, 2020. According to the suit, Facebook violated the privacy of as many as 311,127 citizens of Australia, by disclosing their personal and private information to the -This Is Your Digital Life app from March 2014 up to May 2015. The app developers appear to have sold these personal information to Cambridge Analytics, and used the same for political profiling and other schemes.

According to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, Facebook failed miserably to take necessary actions to safeguard the individual personal information of these people from unauthorized disclosure. They even further disclosed this personal information for a purpose that is adverse to the purpose for which it was collected. These are deemed blatant violation of the Australia’s Privacy Act of 1988.

Personal Information Leaked

The design of Facebook is meant to some extent to render futile any exercise of reasonable choice to control how Australian’s private and personal information will be used and disclosed. This is according to the office of the Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner. The default settings of Facebook made possible the disclosure of personal information, including very private and confidential data and info at the expense of privacy.

Furthermore, the suit alleged that the majority of affected Australians did not in fact installed the app. Rather, their personal data was collected after their FB friends downloaded the application, allowing them no reasonable opportunity to opt out from the app. The office of the Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner stated that there are only 53 people in Australia who downloaded the – This Is Your Digital Life app.

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Maximum Penalty

For each data breach and violation carries with it a penalty of approximately $1.7 million dollars, which is a substantial amount of cash by itself. However, when multiplied by 311,127 cases alleged, it can reach a massive sum of up to $529 billion dollars. The estimated government revenue of Australia totalled $513.7 billion in the year 2019-2020.

The office of the Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner said they can also file one class suit for the data breach. Other governments have previously filed cases against Facebook following privacy violations originating from Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook agreed to pay approximately $5 billion fine to the US government in the year 2019. They are also hit with a £500,000 fine from the UK government in the year 2018.

The spokesperson of Facebook said they have actively engaged with the Australian OAIC for the past couple of years and made an active part in the investigation. They were unable to provide further statement as the case is already before the AU Federal Court.