Following data scandal fine in UK, Facebook may face penalty in Australia

Compensation sought for Australians caught up in Facebook privacy breach

Lawyers have lodged a mass complaint to Australian privacy authorities on behalf of Facebook users caught up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The UK Information Commissioner's Office is threatening the company with the maximum penalty allowed, it said on Wednesday when issuing its first findings in a probe that looked at some 30 organisations, including social-media platforms such as Facebook.

Under Australian law, all organizations must take "reasonable steps" to ensure personal information is held securely and IMF Bentham has teamed up with a major law firm to lodge a complaint with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIO). Facebook is now facing inquiries by the U.S. Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.

The UK's information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said she would fine the social network as her office investigates how the data of tens of millions of users was improperly accessed. "We're reviewing the report and will respond to the ICO soon".

"A significant finding of the ICO investigation is the conclusion that Facebook has not been sufficiently transparent to enable users to understand how and why they might be targeted by a political party or campaign", Denham wrote.

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Cambridge Analytica has maintained that none of the data obtained without the knowledge of Facebook users was shared with or used for the purposes of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

The British agency said it is still weighing potential penalties against Kogan as well as Alexander Nix, the former chief executive of Cambridge Analytica.

Her office is leading the European investigations into how such an amount of data - most belonging to U.S. and United Kingdom residents, she says - could have ended up in the hands of a consulting firm that worked on Donald Trump's USA presidential campaign.

Just 53 Australians downloaded the "this is your digital life" Facebook quiz app responsible for the Cambridge Analytica data breach. Last year, antitrust regulators in the European Union slapped Facebook with a $122 million fine. Facebook also received a minor fine of $164,000 from French regulators for failing to meet the country's data protection rules.

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