14 September 2020

The Federal Court today rejected Facebook Inc’s application to set aside the Court’s earlier ruling granting the Australian Information Commissioner leave to serve legal documents on the US-based entity.

The Commissioner filed proceedings against Facebook Inc and Facebook Ireland in the Federal Court in March, 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. Facebook Ireland did not apply to set aside service.

In the ruling released today, 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. While these matters remain to be established at trial, the Court held the matters were sufficiently arguable to justify service outside of Australia and subjecting Facebook Inc to proceedings in Australia.

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