Defend Your Right to Privacy: Register for the IMF Bentham Facebook Class Action by July 31st
On 17 March 2018, an alarming report in The New York Times and The Observer uncovered that Cambridge Analytica had gained unathorised access to the Facebook profiles of approximately 50 million users worldwide. While the implications of this data breach are still being understood, numerous aggrieved Australian Facebook users have registered their interest in joining a legal action.
This action is aimed at holding the multi-billion dollar social media company to account for the alleged breach of Australian privacy laws. As recently featured on Radio National’s Law Report, IMF Bentham, in conjunction with a leading law firm, is funding a complaint to the Australian Information Commissioner on behalf of Australian Facebook users in respect of the alleged breach.
This case comes at a pivotal moment as privacy laws try to keep pace with the rapidly evolving terrain of digital technology. The case presents an opportunity to enforce citizens’ privacy rights and prevent the misuse of their personal data. To sign up for this class action, you can register here before July 31st.
What are the potential implications if Facebook breached my privacy?
These types of privacy breaches can fundamentally impact an array of outcomes from political elections to personal job prospects. During the privacy breach, third-parties may have accessed your name, date of birth, location, political persuasion and other personal details. It has been alleged that Cambridge Analytica, who worked with then presidential candidate Donald Trump, used data they acquired from Facebook to build a software program to predict and influence voters and impact the 2016 US election. Similar tactics could be used to affect the outcome of Australian political elections. Australia has privacy legislation that is intended to protect citizens and provide recourse for loss or damages in case of a breach.
How can I find out if my privacy was breached?
If you had a Facebook account and used Facebook while in Australia between 2010 and March 2015, your personal data may have been accessed. It has been estimated that 311,000 people in Australia have been affected by the data breach. If your personal information was mishandled by Facebook, you are eligible to sign up for this action. To check if your data was affected by the alleged breach, you can use this Facebook tool to find out. For more background on the details of the alleged breach and how your data may have been accessed via your profile or your friend networks, explore our class action page.
How can Australians launch a complaint against an overseas company like Facebook?
The Privacy Act has extra-territorial reach if the misuse impacts Australian residents and the company is carrying on a business in Australia - irrespective of where the data is stored and where the company is domiciled. If you resided in Australia during the alleged breach, and your data was accessed, you are eligible to join the proposed class action.
What are the benefits if the Facebook legal action is successful?
The complaint is seeking, among other things, compensation for Facebook users arising from Facebook’s alleged breaches of the Australian Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). The complaint seeks financial recompense for the unauthorised access to, and use of, your personal data.
While exact compensation amounts cannot be estimated, in the US, class actions against Facebook are seeking $1,000 compensation each pursuant to a US law. As privacy law is a developing space, there is no comparable precedent in Australia to rely on, however the maximum award to an individual having their privacy interfered with to date is AUD$20,000. We are not suggesting that the compensation in this case will be anywhere near this amount, however it does show that the Information Commissioner is prepared to award significant sums of compensation in appropriate cases.
If successful, the action will likely serve to remind companies of the important responsibility they assume when they hold and store people’s personal information. The UK Information Commissioner has indicated that it intends to fine Facebook and investigations in other countries will no doubt reach similar conclusions. As the first complaint of its kind in Australia, the suit could result in a clear legal statement on Australian citizens’ right to privacy.
How do I join this legal action?
The deadline to sign up for the Facebook class action is July 31st – sign up here today.
ABOUT IMF BENTHAM
IMF is one of the leading global litigation funders, headquartered in Australia and with offices in the US, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong and the UK. IMF has built its reputation as a trusted provider of innovative litigation funding solutions and has established an increasingly diverse portfolio of litigation funding assets.
IMF has a highly experienced litigation funding team overseeing its investments. We have a 90% success rate over 166 completed investments and have recovered over A$1.3 billion for clients since 2001.
For further information regarding IMF and its activities, please visit www.imf.com.au.