Australia’s privacy watchdog has opened an investigation into Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal. Yesterday Facebook revealed that more users than previously thought could have had their personal information passed to the company back in 2014 — saying as many as 87 million Facebook users could have had their data “improperly shared”, thereby confirming the testimony of ex-Cambridge Analytica employee, Chris Wylie, who last month told a UK parliamentary committee he believed that substantially more than 50M Facebook users had had their information swiped. And while most of these Facebook users are located in the US, multiple millions are not. The company confirmed the international split yesterday in a blog post — including that 1 million+ of the total are UK users; more than 620k are Canadian; and more than 300k are Australian. Though in tiny grey lettering at the bottom of the graphic Facebook caveats that these figures are merely its “best estimates” of the maximum number of affected users. After the US, the largest proportion of Facebook users affected by the data leakage were in the Philippines and Indonesia. In a statement today the Australian watchdog (OAIC) said it has opened a formal investigation into Facebook. “The investigation will consider whether Facebook has breached the Privacy Act 1988(Privacy Act). Given the global nature of this matter, the OAIC will confer with regulatory authorities internationally,” it writes. “All organisations 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.” We’ve reached out to the National Privacy Commission in the Philippines for a reaction to the Cambridge Analytica revelations. Indonesia does not yet have a comprehensive regulation protecting personal data — and concerned consumers in the country can but hope this latest Facebook privacy scandal will act as a catalyst for change. Elsewhere, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada announced that it was opening a formal investigation into Facebook on March 26. In an op-ed, privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien also wrote that the Cambridge Analytica scandal underscored deficiencies in the country’s privacy laws. “At the moment, for example, federal political parties are not subject to privacy laws,” he said. “This is clearly unacceptable. Information about our political views is highly sensitive…

Source: TechCrunch – Social Australia latest to open probe into Facebook data scandal