Facebook, Google face steeper Aussie privacy fines

SYDNEY • Tech giants such as Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google will face tougher penalties if they out privacy laws, under a plan Australia’s prime minister (PM) said is necessary to safeguard personal information.

Australia’s government will introduce measures to increase fines for breaches, strengthen disclosure policies and embolden its privacy regulator to crack down on data misuse, according to a statement yesterday.

The plan comes amid mounting pressure for social media platforms to remove offensive and extremist content after 50 people died in recent attacks on two mosques in New Zealand. The shooting were live-streamed.

“They need to stop hate content and they need to do the right thing with people’s information,” PM Scott Morrison said in the statement.

The measures will increase the penalty for serious or repeated data-breaches from A$2.1 million (RM6.06 million) to A$10 million. Companies could also be charged three times the value of any benefit gained or 10% of the firm’s annual domestic turnover, whichever is greater.

Social media and online companies will also be called on to stop using or disclosing an individual’s information upon request, and face tighter rules on protecting the personal information of children and vulnerable groups.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner will also receive new powers to issue infringement notices to those who don’t cooperate in resolving minor breaches. — Bloomberg