IMF Bentham Launches Representative Action Against Facebook for Privacy Breaches

PERTH, AUSTRALIA (10 July 2018) – IMF Bentham Ltd (ASX:IMF) and a leading Australian law firm have lodged a representative complaint with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) 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. The alleged breaches surround the circumstances in which a third party, Cambridge Analytica, gained unauthorised access to users’ profiles and information. The complaint seeks financial recompense for the unauthorised access to, and use of, their personal data.

If you had a Facebook account, which was the subject of the privacy breach, and used Facebook while in Australia from 2010 to March 2015, IMF invites you to join the class action and register your details, via its dedicated website here. Facebook users can find out if they are affected by using the tool available at https://www.facebook.com/help/yourinfo. Once affected users register their details in the IMF class action, they will receive further information and be advised next steps.

Background

In 2013, ‘This is my Digital Life’ a personality quiz and software application (app), used Facebook to distribute its personality test. Facebook users who signed up to the personality test appear to have consented to the app accessing their Facebook data. However, unbeknown to these users, the app also harvested data from their Facebook friends, representing an estimated additional 87 million users. It is believed the data harvested includes the users’ political views, religious beliefs, friends, and ‘likes’.

It appears the data collected by ‘This is my Digital Life’ was then made available to British political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, who created a tool to predict personalities and used the harvested data for targeted advertising campaigns. It may have been made available to others also.

It appears that Facebook first discovered the breach in late 2015, but failed to alert users and took limited steps to recover and secure the data.

On 17 March 2018, the New York Times and The Observer reported that Cambridge Analytica had accessed the Facebook profiles of approximately 50 million users. Following this media exposure, Facebook revealed on 4 April 2018 that over 300,000 Australian-based users were victims of the breach. Australians are some of the most prolific social media users in the world. Independent reports suggest up to 60% of Australia’s population are Facebook users. Australia was the 10th hardest hit by the breach globally.

Australia’s Privacy legislation requires companies holding personal information to take reasonable steps to ensure that personal information is held securely and that customers are adequately notified about the collection and handling of their personal information.

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

*All information provided to the IMF Bentham website will be treated confidentially and in accordance with IMF’s privacy policy.

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