Australian Government Sues Facebook for up to $529 Billion
The Australian Information Commissioner seeks damages for the divulging of 311,127 citizens' personal data to Cambridge Analytica in 2018.
On Monday, the Australian Information Commissioner filed a lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly violating its privacy laws, with requested damages that are estimated to be as high as $529 billion.
The accusation stems from the 2018 Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal, where the social media giant allowed the personal information of approximately 50 million users – including 311,127 Australians – to be disclosed to Cambridge Analytica, a US-based political data firm that worked with the Trump campaign during his 2016 Presidential election.
The maximum penalty for a digital privacy violation is $1.7 million under Australian law, resulting in the unprecedented sum of $529 billion potentially being sought as damages on behalf of the 311,127 affected Australian citizens.
“Facebook’s default settings facilitated the disclosure of personal information, including sensitive information, at the expense of privacy,” Australian Information Commissioner Angelene Falk said in a statement.
“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.”
Facebook has already been forced to pay a comparatively small $5 billion fine to the US government for its role in the Cambridge Analytica data breach, the largest fine ever imposed by the Federal Trade Commission.
Speaking to TechCrunch, a Facebook spokesperson said that the company had already made changes to the platform following the 2018 scandal, adding: “We’re unable to comment further as this is now before the Federal Court.”