Australia Court Fines Meta $14 Million for Undisclosed Data Collection Through Smartphone App
Last Updated: July 26, 2023, 07:18 IST
An Australian court ordered Facebook owner Meta Platforms to pay fines totalling A$20 million ($14 million) for collecting user data through a smartphone application purporting to protect privacy without disclosing its actions.
Australia’s Federal Court also ordered Meta, through its subsidiaries Facebook Israel and the now-discontinued app, Onavo, to pay A$400,000 in legal costs to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which brought the civil lawsuit.
From early 2016 to late 2017, the company which was then called Facebook advertised Onavo as a way for people to keep their personal information safe but collected their location, time and frequency using other smartphone apps, and websites they visited for its own commercial purposes, the judge Wendy Abraham said in a written judgment on Wednesday.
”The failure to make sufficient disclosures … may have deprived tens of thousands of Australian consumers of the opportunity to make an informed choice about the collection and use of their data before downloading and/or using Onavo Protect,” Abraham wrote.
She added that the court could have fined Meta hundreds of billions of dollars since Australians downloaded the app 271,220 times and each breach of consumer law carried a A$1.1 million fine, but ”the contraventions can be characterised as a single course of conduct”.
The fine was agreed by the regulator and Meta but ”carries with it a sufficient sting to ensure that the penalty amount is not such as to be regarded … as simply an acceptable cost of doing business”, she wrote.
The ACCC and Meta were not immediately available for comment.
($1 = 1.4736 Australian dollars)
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – Reuters)