Australian firm may file class action suit against Facebook over data-sharing scandal

By @chelean on
FILE PHOTO: A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes, France, June 20, 2018.
FILE PHOTO: A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes, France, June 20, 2018. Reuters/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

A class action suit against Facebook is brewing in Australia. On Tuesday, litigation funder IMF Bentham Ltd announced that it would seek financial compensation for the Australians who believe that their date had been shared by the social media giant to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal was uncovered in March when British network Channel 4 News, which conducted a four-month investigation into Cambridge Analytica from November last year, published footage in which executives from the firm bragged about using dubious means for opposition research. It was later learnt that Cambridge Analytica used Facebook to gather personal data of its up to 87 million users.

In Australia, there have been more than 311,000 users whose data may have been used without authorisation. This is where the class action suit would base on.

IMF Bentham said it has partnered with law office Johnson Winter & Slattery to lodge the complaint with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. The complaint will allege breaches of privacy laws over the data sharing. And depending on the regulator’s response, a class action suit may follow.

“The complaint seeks financial recompense for the unauthorised access to and use of their personal data,” IMF Bentham said in a statement. Australians who used Facebook from 2010 and 2015 might be eligible to join the class action suit.

“We are fully cooperating with the investigation currently underway by the Australian Privacy Commissioner and will review any additional evidence that is made available when the UK Office of the Information Commissioner releases their report,” a spokeswoman for Facebook said (via the Guardian).

The move follows a joint class action suit filed by US and UK lawyers against Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and two other companies — SCL Group Limited and Global Science Research Limited — for alleged misuse of personal data of more than 71 million people.

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