SYDNEY: As Facebook faces down ongoing questions regarding its data-sharing practices, the social media giant is now facing investigation by Australian government authorities.
Last week, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted that the scandal – which has seen Cambridge Analytica, a firm linked to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, accused of improperly gaining data from Facebook users – may have affected up to 87 million people, as opposed to the 50 million initially thought.
Zuckerberg said that he would not step down, but admitted that the company has made a “huge mistake” in not focusing more on potential abuse of data.
“We’re still working through this, but at the end of the day, this is my responsibility,” he said on a call with reporters.
However, with the news that more than 311,000 Australian Facebook users may have had their personal data accessed, the country’s privacy regulator, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, will look at whether Facebook has breached the 1988 Privacy Act.
If Facebook is found to have fallen foul of privacy laws, then it may face fines of more than A$2.1m, reported news.com.au.
“I have opened a formal investigation into Facebook, following confirmation from Facebook that the information of over 300,000 Australian users may have been acquired and used without authorisation,” said Angelene Falk, acting Australian privacy commissioner, in a statement.
According to Falk, the inquiry will consider whether Facebook took “reasonable steps” to ensure users’ information was held secure and whether Australian users were “adequately notified about the collection and handling of their personal information”.
“All organisations that are covered by the Privacy Act have obligations in relation to the personal information that they hold,” she said.
“This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that personal information is held securely, and ensuring that customers are adequately notified about the collection and handling of their personal information.”
In response to the scandal, Facebook had previously announced it will stop its program which enables third-party data providers to target its users. Facebook Australia’s managing director, Will Easton, has also apologised to marketers at a public event in Sydney at the end of March.
Sourced from Politico, news.com.au, Mumbrella; additional content by WARC staff