Facebook US says it is not responsible for the Australian users’ data shared by Facebook Ireland to Cambridge Analytica
Have you heard a more absurd argument? Facebook Inc, the United States-based company says it is not responsible for the data collected by Facebook Ireland during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Yes, this is what Facebook told an Australian court on Friday.
In a hearing in the matter of Facebook vs Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner, the Facebook United States attorney told the Australian Federal Court that the handling of personal data owned by Australian users is only the responsibility of Facebook Ireland and that the US-based Facebook Inc has no contractual relationship with these users. I am confused, are you too?
The lawsuit against Facebook was filed by the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner in March 2020 and alleges that US-based Facebook Inc and Facebook Ireland breached Australia’s Privacy Act by repeatedly and seriously interfering with the privacy of Australians.
The lawsuit cropped up after the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal. It is alleged that Facebook collected private and confidential data of 311,000 Australians to the This Is Your Digital Life app. This is Your Digital Life app shared this data to Cambridge Analytica and it was used for political profiling purposes. Out of the 311,000 Australians, only 53 had downloaded and signed on to This Is Your Digital Life app.
This is Your Digital Life app conducted surveys that operated independently of the Facebook website. It is alleged that it shared the data of Australian Facebook users with Cambridge Analytica. Under Australian privacy laws, entities such as Facebook can only hold any collected personal information of an individual for a particular purpose, but they are not allowed to use or disclose the information for another purpose. The Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner alleges that Facebook illegally shared the user data without the Facebook user’s consent and for the purpose of political profiling.
Facebook’s perplexing reply!
Facebook told the court that it did not have any responsibility for its Australian users. The lawyer for Facebook told the court that all the deals between This is Your Digital Life and Facebook were done by Facebook Ireland who acted as an agent of Facebook Inc.
It’s not a question of an inference being available; no inferences are available because nothing has been established yet, which would supply a basis to say that [Facebook Ireland] is conducting its business as an agent of Inc. During the relevant period, Facebook Inc does not sell advertising in Australia and does not earn revenue in Australia. There is no evidence that Facebook is contracted with any users in Australia on the basis of what we’ve already submitted.
Facebook counsel Noel Hutley
Senior counsel Ruth Higgins, the legal representative for the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner told the court that this was wrong as Facebook operated globally and was responsible for the data privacy of its users.
The court hearings in this matter will continue next week and we will keep you updated.