The Australian government will move to investigate social media giant Facebook for a possible breach of the Australian privacy act. Facebook revealed that it was possible one in 50 users of their social networking platform could have had their personal information compromised and accessed by Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook is widely acknowledged as the Internet’s largest social media platform. The site has over 2 billion community members with more than 1 billion active users every day. Australia has an estimated 10.82 million Facebook users.
According to Facebook, of the 87 million worldwide users, 311,127 may have come from Australia. Cambridge Analytica is a political consultancy company from the United Kingdom.
It has been alleged that Cambridge Analytica used the information gathered from Facebook users to influence Brexit and the results of the 2016 United States Presidential elections.
Acting information and privacy commissioner Angelene Falk said Facebook is not exempted from abiding with the Privacy Act:
“All organizations 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.”
Mike Schroepferm Chief Technology Officer of Facebook said the company had already taken steps to tighten security on personal information. Among the proposed strategies include changing the way third-party developers interact with Facebook.
The company also said it would start informing Facebook users about the apps they use and the kinds of information that have been shared on April 9. This way, users would be able to tell if their personal information was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.
Schroepfer revealed in his blog post that the figure of 87 million people with compromised personal information was much higher than the original estimate of 37 million people.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted the company was at fault:
“We didn’t take a broad enough view on what our responsibility was and that was a huge mistake. That was my mistake.”
Two popular news corporations, Guardian and Observer blew open the data breach. In their reports, they claim Cambridge Analytica used the data to build a software program that would be able to predict and influence voters. The news media also allege that Cambridge Analytica worked closely with Donald Trump’s election team and the Leave campaign in the United Kingdom.
The software app is called thisisyourdigitallide which was developed by Cambridge University academic Aleksandr Kogan.
Kogan worked on the software app from his company, Global Science Research, with the backing of Cambridge Analytica. The company used personality tests that would need user consent for their personal data to be accessed.