Australia Is Suing Facebook for $529 Billion for Repeated Privacy Breaches

That's more than the Australian government makes in one year.
Fabienne Lang
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For allegedly violating Australia's privacy laws, Facebook is now being sued by the nation for a sum that could be as high as $529 billion.

The suit was filed on Monday to the Australian Federal Court, and stated that the social media giant had violated 311,127 Australian citizens' privacy by sharing their personal information with an app called This is Your Digital Life between March 2014 and May 2015

The developers of this app then sold the information to Cambridge Analytica, which used it for political profiling.


Australia suing Facebook

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) claims that Facebook "failed to take reasonable steps to protect those individuals’ personal information from unauthorized disclosure," as well as sharing that information for different reasons than it was initially intended to be for. In doing so, Facebook violated Australia's Privacy Act 1988.

"We consider the design of the Facebook platform meant that users were unable to exercise reasonable choice and control about how their personal information was disclosed," Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said in a press release.

"Facebook’s default settings facilitated the disclosure of personal information, including sensitive information, at the expense of privacy."

In the suit, it's alleged that the Facebook users whose information was shared had not even downloaded the This is Your Digital Life app. Their data was collected via Facebook friends of theirs who had downloaded the app. They had no idea what was happening, nor were they able to decide whether or not to share the data. 

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Each alleged violation comes with a $1.7 million price tag. Multiplying that number by the 311,127 Australians whose information was disclosed and the cost quickly mounts to $529 billion. As a comparison, last year the Australian government's total revenue was $513.7 billion

That said, the OAIC stated to the Financial Review that the court could amass this into one case, which would reduce the potential damages to $1.7 million

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