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Here’s Why Australia’s Federal Court Sued Facebook

The information was exposed to the risk of being disclosed to Cambridge Analytica and used for political profiling purposes, and to other third parties

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Facebook
The Australian Information Commissioner alleged that the personal information of Australian Facebook users was disclosed to the personality quiz app "This is Your Digital Life" for a purpose other than the purpose for which the information was collected, in breach of the Privacy Act 1988. Pixabay

Australia’s privacy watchdog on Monday said it is taking Facebook to the Federal Court, alleging privacy breaches linked to the Cambridge Analytica (CA) scandal.

The Australian Information Commissioner alleged that the personal information of Australian Facebook users was disclosed to the personality quiz app “This is Your Digital Life” for a purpose other than the purpose for which the information was collected, in breach of the Privacy Act 1988.

The information was exposed to the risk of being disclosed to Cambridge Analytica and used for political profiling purposes, and to other third parties. “We claim these actions left the personal data of around 311,127 Australian Facebook users exposed to be sold and used for purposes including political profiling, well outside users’ expectations,” Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said in a statement.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal which made global headlines in 2018 affected over 87 million users worldwide, leading to severe scrutiny of Facebook over its practices of protecting user data. “All entities operating in Australia must be transparent and accountable in the way they handle personal information, in accordance with their obligations under Australian privacy law,” Falk said.

“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,” Falk said. Facebook’s default settings facilitated the disclosure of personal information, including sensitive information, at the expense of privacy, according to Commissioner Falk.

The statement of claim lodged in the Australia Federal Court on Monday alleges that from March 2014 to May 2015, Facebook disclosed the personal information of Australian Facebook users to This Is Your Digital Life, in breach of Australian Privacy Principle 6.

Most of those users did not install the app themselves, and their personal information was disclosed via their friends’ use of the app. The statement of claim also alleges that Facebook did not take reasonable steps during this period to protect its users’ personal information from unauthorised disclosure.

Facebook
Australia’s privacy watchdog on Monday said it is taking Facebook to the Federal Court, alleging privacy breaches linked to the Cambridge Analytica (CA) scandal. Pixabay

The Federal Court in Australia can impose a civil penalty of up to $1,700,000 for each serious and/or repeated interference with privacy as per the penalty rate applicable in 2014-15. The US regulators in December last year said that the now-defunct British data analytics and consulting company engaged in deceptive practices to harvest personal information from tens of millions of Facebook users for voter profiling and targeting.

The ruling came after Facebook earlier agreed to pay a record-breaking $5 billion to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as fine for users’ privacy violations in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

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The UK’s data protection watchdog imposed on Facebook a fine of 500,000 pounds in 2018 over the Cambridge Analytica data breaches. (IANS)

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WhatsApp Experiences Greatest Gains Amid Lockdown

WhatsApp sees 40% increase in usage in time of pandemic

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WhatsApp
WhatsApp has seen a 40 per cent increase in usage, according to a study by Kantar, a data and consulting company. Pixabay

As COVID-19 pandemic envelopes the world, WhatsApp has seen a 40 per cent increase in usage, according to a study by Kantar, a data and consulting company. This is a technology news.

Across all stages of the pandemic, WhatsApp is the social media app experiencing the greatest gains in usage as people look to stay connected. Overall WhatsApp has seen a 40 per cent increase in usage.

Kantar conducted the largest global study into consumer attitudes, media habits and expectations during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Kantar estimates that for WhatsApp in the early phase of the pandemic usage increases 27 per cent, in mid-phase 41 per cent and countries in the late phase of the pandemic see an increase of 51 per cent.

Spain experienced a 76 per cent increase in time spent on WhatsApp. Overall Facebook usage has increased 37 per cent. China experienced a 58% increase in usage of local social media apps including Wechat and Weibo.

WhatsApp
WhatsApp is the social media app experiencing the greatest gains in usage as people look to stay connected. Pixabay

According to a study, there is a crisis in trust. Traditional nationwide news channels (broadcast and newspaper) are the most trusted sources of information with 52 per cent of people identifying them as a ‘trustworthy’ source.

Government agency websites are regarded as trustworthy by only 48 per cent of people, suggesting that government measures are not providing citizens around the world with assurances and security.

Also reflecting the loss of trust from recent election cycles, social media platforms are regarded by only 11 per cent of people as a source of trustworthy information.

As countries move deeper in to the pandemic so media consumption increases across all in-home channels. According to Kantar, in the later stages of the pandemic web browsing increases by 70 per cent, followed by (traditional) TV viewing increasing by 63 per cent and social media engagement increasing by 61 per cent over normal usage rates.

Increased usage across all messaging platforms has been biggest in the 18-34 age group. WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram have all experienced a more than 40 per cent increase in usage from under 35-year olds.

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Consumers expect the brands they choose to look after their employees first and foremost with 78 per cent saying take care of employees’ health and 62 per cent saying implement flexible working.

Supporting hospitals (41 per cent) and being helpful to government (35 per cent) is an expectation of significant minority of consumers, the study says. (IANS)