On Monday, the Federal Court in Australia dismissed Meta’s appeal in a bid to throw out a Cambridge Analytica data lawsuit from the country’s privacy regulator.
The rejection means the Office of Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) lawsuit against Facebook, now Meta, can finally be heard in court.
Meta had claimed that it neither conducts business nor collects personal information in Australia.
The full bench dismissed Meta’s argument that the Facebook platform merely acted as an overseas website that provides data to an Australian device when requested to do so as being “divorced from reality”.
“The problems with this submission are first that it proves far too much, and secondly that it is, with respect, divorced from reality,” Justice Nye Perram wrote in his judgment.
The court found Meta’s installation of cookies on Australian users’ physical devices was sufficient to meet the threshold of conducting business and collecting personal information in Australia, reports ZDNet.
What this case decides is only that an inference may be drawn that a firm which installs and removes cookies in Australia (and which also manages for Australian developers a credential system which is widely used in Australia) is carrying on its worldwide business of data processing in this country.
The privacy watchdog will now look to accuse Meta of breaching the privacy of over 300,000 Australians whose data were caught up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said her office would continue to move forward with the case.
Facebook in 2019 agreed to pay a record-breaking $5 billion to the US FTC as a fine for users’ privacy violations in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving at least 87 million users.
Cambridge Analytica (CA) was a British political consulting firm, started in 2013 as a subsidiary of the private intelligence company and self-described “global election management agency” SCL Group by long-time SCL executives Nigel Oakes, Alexander Nix, and Alexander Oakes.
The company closed operations in 2018 in the course of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, although firms related to both Cambridge Analytica and its parent firm SCL still exist.