The Australian Government’s Information and Privacy Commissioner (Commissioner) has issued a statement that it is making inquiries of Facebook in relation to the reported data mining of 50 million Facebook profiles around the world. The Commissioner is getting involved because it is likely that the data mining may have included personal information of Australian individuals.
The data mining was allegedly carried out by political research firm Cambridge Analytica, and there are reports that the activities may have had an impact on the outcome of the 2016 US election.
With respect to individuals, the allegations make it clear that you should be mindful of your activities online, and the value that your data can represent to large organisations and political interests.
It will be interesting to see how the Commissioner’s inquiries of Facebook progress. In particular, we will be paying attention to whether and how the Commissioner seeks to exercise any of his broad powers under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).
Watch this space.