Facebook BROKE LAW in personal data controversy, says watchdog

Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, acknowledged in a statement Tuesday that Facebook "should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015".

Lawyers have lodged a mass complaint to Australian privacy authorities on behalf of Facebook users caught up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

"We have been working closely with the Information Commissioner's Office in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the USA and other countries".

Facebook has said that a Cambridge University lecturer named Aleksandr Kogan collected the data legitimately through a personality quiz app but then violated Facebook's terms by sharing the information with Cambridge Analytica, a firm later hired by the Trump presidential campaign during the 2016 U.S. election. Facebook is now facing inquiries by the U.S. Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.

OAIC is conducting its own investigation into whether Facebook breached the Privacy Act, which obligates organisations to ensure customers are notified about the collection and handling of their personal information.

Facebook has said it will be reviewing the report and responding to the ICO soon.

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The U.K.'s probe adopted a wide lens, focusing not only on Facebook but the ecosystem of players - totaling 172 organizations and 285 individuals - involved in the collection and sale of data about web users for political purposes. "We have been working closely with the ICO in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the United States and other countries", she said.

Media Committee chairman Damian Collins commented: "Given that the ICO is saying that Facebook broke the law, it is essential that we now know which other apps that ran on their platform may have scraped data in a similar way".

The revelations that data belonging to as many as 87 million Facebook users and their friends may have been misused is a "game changer" in the world of data protection, Denham said.

"The alleged breaches surround the circumstances in which a third party, Cambridge Analytica, gained unauthorised access to users' profiles and information", the company said.

It's not the first time, however, that Europe has penalized Facebook. "It also found that the company failed to be transparent about how people's data was harvested by others". Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin wrote this story.

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