Australia launches investigation into Facebook over data scandal

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Australia has launched a formal investigation into Facebook after the company revealed information about hundreds of thousands of Australians was potentially exposed to data research firm Cambridge Analytica.

The investigation will examine whether the social media giant breached Australia’s privacy laws, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) said Thursday.

“Given the global nature of this matter, the OAIC will confer with regulatory authorities internationally,” Angelene Falk, the country’s acting information and privacy commissioner, said in a statement.

Related: Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress twice next week

Facebook revealed on Wednesday that data from 87 million of its users “may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica,” far higher than the 50 million estimated by initial reports.

A little over 300,000 of those users were from Australia, the company said in a blog post. The vast majority of the affected users were in the United States.

Other countries potentially affected by the data breach are the Philippines, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, India, Brazil and Vietnam.

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Facebook says users from these countries may have had user data “improperly shared” with Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica, which also worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, disputed the numbers shared by Facebook, saying in a statement that it “licensed data for no more than 30 million people” from the independent scientist who collected it.

“We did not receive more data than this,” the firm said.

CNNMoney (New Delhi) First published April 5, 2018: 3:08 AM ET

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