Global Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Facebook in Europe

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Privacy activist and founder of europe-v-facebook.org Max Schrems is organizing a class action lawsuit against Facebook, which could potentially be Europe’s largest data privacy suit.

Schrems, who is also a Viennese law student, has filed a civil suit against Facebook’s Irish subsidiary in Vienna’s commerical court. In accordance with Austrian law, Schrems opened the class action suit to all registered adult Facebook users outside the US and Canada through his Class Action App on fbclaim.com.

The suit claims that Facebook’s use of “big data” systems, the “like” button and tracking users on external sites is in violation with European user data laws. Schrems also accuses Facebook of aiding the National Security Agency’s secret US surveillance and data mining program, Prism.

Each supporter, including Schrem, will ask for damages of 500 euro for alleged data protection violations, which include more than 20 different complaints. But because only Schrems will figure as a claimant, additional persons will not incur financial costs; litigation funding company Roland ProzessFinanz AG will pay for the suit and receive 20 percent of the damages if successful.

“Our aim is to make Facebook finally operate lawfully in the area of data protection,” said Schrems in a press release. Injunctive relief will be sought under EU data protection laws.

Europe is generally more privacy-conscious and has stricter data-protection rules than the United States. Complaints made on europe-v-facebook.org resulted in Facebook deleting data and deactivating its facial recognition software internationally, according to Schrems.

“We love to complain constantly about data protection problems in Europe, now it’s also time for us to enforce our fundamental rights.” Shrems says the suit will level the playing field “in the fight between David and Goliath.”

Speaking to Reuters, Schrem said, “We have this habit of pointing the finger at the United States, but we’re not enforcing our rights anyway. If we can get a class action through like this, it will send out a huge signal to the industry overall.”

Facebook declined to comment on Friday.

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