Australia sues Facebook over user data, echoing US antitrust case

Platform News: Facebook

An Australian ruler sued Facebook on Wednesday accusing it of gathering user data without consent, building on government attempts around the world to rein in the social media.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it had been seeking an unspecified nice from Facebook for promoting a virtual private network as a way for individuals to safeguard their information, while covertly using the information to select targets for commercial acquisitions.

The litigation echoes a milestone US Federal Trade Commission action accusing the societal media giant of inappropriately maintaining market dominance by utilizing customer data to decide on takeover targets including messaging app Whatsapp and image-sharing app Instagram.

“There is a link to what the FTC is saying, but they’re looking at a competition issue,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a news conference. “We’re looking at the consumer.”

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company was “always clear about the information we collect and how it is used”.

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Before this month, Australia went forward with plans to create Facebook and internet giant Google pay domestic media outlets for articles that appeared on their sites, at Sims’s recommendation.

The Australian privacy regulator includes a separate lawsuit against Facebook accusing it of breaching user solitude with a personality evaluation run by political marketing consultant Cambridge Analytica. Facebook is defending this action. The ACCC is also suing Google alleging it misled users around data collection.

Unlike the U.S. lawsuit, which may induce Facebook to market assets, the Australian suit could force the company to alter the way it discloses its actions to users, said Rob Nicholls, a University of New South Wales associate professor who specialises in competition law.

“Rather than take the antitrust approach of ‘the only way to address this is to break it up’, it’s more’ we’re going to take the action that we can under the existing legislation to modify the conduct so that it’s acceptable to Australian customers and Australian companies,” Nicholls said.

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The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Byron Kaye. Additional reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru. Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Stephen Coates.

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