Now, the Facebook debacle that began with Cambridge Analytica has gone “global.” After officials in the United States and Britain questioned the company, now Australia has announced a formal investigation into the matter in which, officials believe, “hundreds of thousands” of Australians may have had their personal data exposed.
The purpose of the investigation is to determine if Facebook violated Australia’s privacy laws. Angelene Falk, information and privacy commissioner for the Office of the Australian Information Commission, told the media: “Given the global nature of this matter, the OAIC will confer with regulatory authorities internationally…”
Facebook has previously admitted that data from about 87 million users could have been shared “improperly” with Cambridge Analytica. This is nearly double the initial estimate of up to 50 million people. Of those affected by the “improper” data sharing, about 300,000 of the users were in Australia, at least according to Facebook. Far fewer than the number of U.S. users affected, which is estimated to be about 70 million. This could potentially be one of the biggest data leaks in history considering the investigation is still ongoing, increasing cyber security threats for many personal lives as well as small and big business.
Other countries in which users were affected include Canada, Mexico, India, Brazil, Vietnam and the Great Britain. Some of these other countries are investigating the issue as well. Indonesia’s communications minister, Rudiantara, has requested that the national police begin a criminal investigation, according to CNN. The news outlet said it’s “unclear” as to whether Indonesia has launched such an investigation.
Rudiantara said his office is awaiting the results of an independent investigation into the matter and, depending on the findings, may consider shuttering Facebook in his country.
Meanwhile, the organization at the heart of all the turmoil, Cambridge Analytica, has consistently disputed the numbers offered by Facebook. In a media statement, the company admits to licensing the data of “no more than 30 million people” and further states the data was not collected by their organization, but by an independent scientist who then provided it to Cambridge Analytica.
At this point though, many consumers are not nearly as concerned about the exact numbers as they are about the breach itself. While most social media users are aware that the networks are using their data to a point, most have taken some steps to protect data… and these tens of millions were horrified to learn that Cambridge Analytica may have accessed data that was collected without their permission through an app used by “friends” on the social network.
This has been the most serious allegation and the revelation that engendered the most anger in users since the headlines broke. And it’s the allegation that Facebook still hadn’t gotten out from under. Zuckerberg and his team are trying, but it looks like the investigations and accusations are just gaining steam.
Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5W Public Relations