Facebook may face a class action lawsuit if Austria’s Supreme Court approves that Austrian student Max Schrems’s attempts are valid and can be allowed as collective legal action, says a report from Reuters. This is the latest challenge facing U.S. tech firms over their handling of personal data.
Schrems is confident on his class action logic
The Austrian Supreme Court will now have to decide if it agrees with Schrems’ class-action logic. The court could also refer the case to Europe’s top court, the ECJ. Facebook denies any wrongdoing and is asking the court to block a class-action suit.
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Schrems, who has ove r25,000 signatories to his lawsuit, is demanding 500 euros ($531) in damages for each. The pending question as of now is whether his claims can be combined into one in Austrian courts. Earlier, an appellate court allowed the law student to file an individual claim but did not approve the class action, Schrems’ Europe-vs-Facebook group said on Monday.
In a statement, Schrems said, “It would not make a lot of sense for the court or the parties before it to file these claims as thousands of individual lawsuits, which we can still do if a ‘class action’ is not allowed. We therefore think that the ‘class action’ is not only legal but also the only reasonable way to deal with thousands of identical privacy violations by Facebook.”
More troubles in Europe for Facebook
The U.S. firm has its international headquarters in Ireland. Last month, Ireland’s High Court directed an investigation into the way Facebook transfers its European users’ data to the U.S. to ensure that their privacy is protected from U.S. government surveillance. The court’s order for a probe follows a landmark ruling last month in which the European Court of Justice pulled down the Safe Harbour agreement, which supported the free transfer of data between the U.S. and the European Union.
Meanwhile, Facebook is also involved in another privacy-related lawsuit in Belgium. A couple of weeks ago, a Belgium court ordered daily fines on the U.S. firm if it fails to alter the way its tracking cookies process the private data of non-Facebook users. Facebook, which plans to appeal the decision, argued that Belgian courts have no authority over the matter as it is headquartered in Ireland, but the Belgian court turned down this argument.