Social Media

Australian privacy commissioner to probe Facebook over data scandal

Emma Koehn /

Australia’s privacy commissioner will formally investigate whether social media giant Facebook breached the nation’s Privacy Act, in light of confirmation that Facebook data from 300,000 Australian users may have been compromised.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has confirmed that more than 87 million users may have had their data compromised, but the company does not know the exact nature of information shared.

On Thursday, acting Information and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said her office would be looking into the social media giant and whether it is compliant with privacy obligations in Australia.

“All organisations that are covered by the Privacy Act have obligations in relation to 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,” she said in the statement.

The move comes after the commissioner’s office said in March it would be asking Facebook about how Australian’s data may have been compromised and would use the company’s answers to determine whether further investigation was needed.

The commissioner took the opportunity yesterday to remind all businesses and organisations they are also bound by the Privacy Act, and must ensure their customer’s information is secure and not passed on without the permission of the user.

Falk said any user who was not satisfied with Facebook’s response to concerns they raise about data security should refer these concerns directly to the privacy commissioner’s office.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has changed the perception of platforms like Facebook and the security of customer data through these. However, businesses have previously told SmartCompany that while they believe Facebook does lack responsibility in this space, it’s not surprising these concerns are now being raised.

Social media experts say despite the worries, it doesn’t look like the social network is “going away” any time soon, given its ability to reach millions of potential customers worldwide.

NOW READ: What does the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal mean for small businesses in Australia?

Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is a former senior SmartCompany journalist.