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Here’s Why Australia Is Investigating Facebook

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Following the new revelation on the new number that was involved in the breach of privacy laws, Australia said it would begin a probe after Facebook confirmed that private information belonging to 300,000 Australians might have been used for business purposes.

Facebook Chief Technology Officer, Mike Schroepfer had given details in a blog post on the actual number of users’ information was harvested via the app which was further inappropriately used by British political consulting firm. Given this report, the office of the Australian Information Commissioner has reacted by releasing a press statement on the website from the acting Privacy Commissioner, Angelene Falk.  She said:

“The investigation will consider whether Facebook has breached the Privacy Act 1988(Privacy Act). Given the global nature of this matter, the OAIC will confer with regulatory authorities internationally. All organisations that are covered by the Privacy Act have obligations about 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.”

A spokeswoman for Facebook in Australia says that Facebook will take responsibility for the data leak and will be fully transparent throughout the probe. She further emphasised that Facebook has updated some privacy settings on its platform. In a press release in response to the inquiry, it said:

“We are strongly committed to protecting people’s information, and we will be fully responsive to OAIC’s investigation. We’ve recently made significant updates to make our privacy tools easier to find, restrict data access on Facebook, and make our Terms and Data Policy clearer.”

An earlier report had it that data belonging to 50 million users was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica and used without authorisation until yesterday when the number went up to 87 million. The London-based consulting firm which was accused of breaching Facebook’s policy disputed Facebook’s claim of affected users. This revelation has sparked outrage because it means that other countries are likely involved in the data breach.

Aside from the probe which is yet to commence, Australia’s competition regulator is already probing Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to check if they are involved in media disruption to the detriment of publishers and consumers. 

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