Australian regulator sues Facebook over Cambridge Analytica

Australian privacy regulator is suing Facebook over Cambridge Analytica scandal. The watchdog claims that the social media company has violated the country’s privacy laws by collecting more data than originally intended.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner is filing a federal lawsuit against the company, the watchdog writes. The case revolves around the This Is Your Digital Life app, which was misused by Cambridge Analytica to collect information from residents of the country. The data, which came not only from users but also from their friends, was misused for targeted political messages and advertisements. The app is said to have collected names, email addresses, dates of birth and Likes from 311,127 Australians. Most of those users hadn’t installed the app themselves. Their data was collected from other users with whom they were friends. That happened between March 2014 and May 2015, the indictment says.

According to the regulator, the problem was largely with Facebook. “We see that the design of the Facebook platform made it difficult for users to maintain reasonable choice and control over how their personal information was disclosed,” the regulator wrote in the indictment. “Facebook’s default settings facilitated the disclosure of personal and sensitive information.” Facebook should also have taken more “reasonable steps” to protect user information, according to the watchdog.

According to the regulator, Facebook is therefore in violation of the Australian Privacy Principles, the implementation of the privacy law in the country. The charge specifically centers on the violation of three of those “principles.” First, there’s the fact that Facebook used information for a purpose other than that for which it was collected. Also, Facebook should have taken steps to protect the information from misuse and, in the specific case of Cambridge Analytica, from “unauthorized access.” Facebook can be fined 1.7 million Australian dollars, converted just under a million euros, per violation. Facebook has been fined several times for the scandal. In Brazil, for example, it was recently fined 1.5 million euros. In America, the company reached a settlement for five billion euros and had to carry out internal restructuring.