Australia launches investigation into Facebook data-mining scandal

AUSTRALIA has launched its own formal investigation into Facebook after it was revealed more than 300,000 Aussie accounts were linked to the social media giant’s data-mining scandal.

Facebook yesterday admitted that up to 311,127 of its Australian users may have had their data shared with the British political consultancy agency Cambridge Analytica (CA).

That’s one in every 50 of the estimated 15 million active Australian accounts – or one in every 250 of the estimated 87 million accounts that are believed to have been accessed worldwide.


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The staggering number of potentially affected accounts comes after it was revealed Cambridge Analytica had developed controversial data-mining tools for use in political campaigns, including Donald Trump’s run for president.

“The investigation will consider whether Facebook has breached the Privacy Act 1988. Given the global nature of this matter, the OAIC will confer with regulatory authorities internationally,” acting Australian Information Commissioner and Acting Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said.

“Organisations should regularly and proactively assess their information-handling practices to ensure that they are both compliant with privacy laws and in keeping with community expectations,” she said.

“All organisations that are covered by the Privacy Act have obligations in relation to the personal information that they hold.

“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.

“This is a timely reminder to all organisations of the value of good privacy practice to Australians.

“Organisations should regularly and proactively assess their information-handling practices to ensure that they are both compliant with privacy laws and in keeping with community expectations.”

The 87 million users whose data may have been “improperly shared” with CA will be notified from Monday, Facebook said.

The social media giant is also being investigating by several other countries, including Britain and the US.

If anyone has concerns about how their personal information has been collected or managed they can, in the first instance, contact Facebook directly and if not satisfied with their response they can contact the OAIC at www.oaic.gov.au or on 1300 363 992.

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