7 February 2022

The full bench of the Federal Court today rejected Facebook Inc’s appeal to set aside an earlier ruling by Justice Thawley of the Federal Court granting the Australian Information Commissioner leave to serve legal documents on the US-based entity.

Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk welcomed today’s decision and said her office would continue to move forward with the case and looked forward to the hearing of substantive matters.

The Commissioner filed proceedings against Facebook Inc and Facebook Ireland in the Federal Court in March 2020, alleging the social media platform committed serious and/or repeated interferences with privacy in contravention of Australian privacy law. The Commissioner subsequently applied for and obtained leave to serve the initiating court documents on Facebook Inc and Facebook Ireland.

In a ruling released in September 2020, the Court dismissed an interlocutory application made by Facebook Inc seeking to set aside its 22 April orders. Justice Thawley was satisfied that the Commissioner had established a prima facie case that Facebook Inc was carrying on business in Australia, and was collecting and holding personal information in Australia at the relevant time. Facebook Inc subsequently appealed Justice Thawley’s ruling to the full Federal Court. Facebook Ireland did not apply to set aside service.