The Australian government is taking legal actions against Facebook due to the internet privacy violation, with request damages potentially reaching $529 billion. The lawsuit is the result of the scandal in which Cambridge Analytica gathered personally identifiable information. Albeit the scandal was over the years, its effects still linger on.
As stated by the suit filed to the Australian Federal Court on Monday, Facebook has violated the privacy of 311.127 Australian users by leaking their personal information for This Is Your Digital Life in the period March 2014 to May 2015. The developers of the app sold personal information to Cambridge Analytica, which used it for political profiling.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner alleges that Facebook “failed to take reasonable steps to protect those individuals’ personal information from unauthorized disclosure,” and further disclosed said information for a purpose other than that for which it had been collected. Both are violations of Australia’s Privacy Act 1988.
The suit claimed that not all Australians were affected due to the data collection of Cambridge Analytica by clicking in “This Is Your Digital Life”. Instead, their friends in the friend list played this mini-game. Then, the player’s and their friends’ personal information were extracted, giving them no reasonable opportunity to opt-out. The OAIC claims only 53 people in Australia downloaded the This is Your Digital Life app.
Each alleged violation carries a maximum penalty of US$1.7 million, which is a significant mountain of cash by itself. But when multiplied by the 311,127 cases alleged by the OAIC, it grows to the almost comical sum of US$529 billion. For comparison, the Australian government’s total revenue in 2019-20 is estimated to be $513.7 billion.
Earlier, Facebook agreed to pay a $5 billion fine for The US government in 2019 and half a million pounds for the British government in 2019 as the result of the scandal of Cambridge Analytica. However, those numbers are paltry sums compared to the amount of money that the Australian requests.