Max Schrems, an Austrian privacy activist and law student, is suing Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) in Vienna’s local court for the company’s alleged infringement of European Union privacy laws. Schrems is hoping that the Austrian supreme court will grant permission to turn his case into a class action.
In order to achieve this, the 28-year old activist attempted to file his and other Facebook users’ complaints together.
Schrems didn’t get a positive answer at first. His case had been previously rejected by Vienna’s local court, which claimed it didn’t have the jurisdiction for a class action of global scale.
The activist then turned to the Vienna court of appeal and managed to cancel a major part of the previous court’s objections. While this move meant the court gave Schrems’ individual case the green light to proceed, it was then again turned down as a class action.
“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,” explained Schrems.
Meanwhile, Facebook representatives denied the accusations and are trying to avoid a class action lawsuit. A spokeswoman for the company said the litigation was unnecessary, and they were pleased that the Austrian court recognized they didn’t have jurisdiction to turn individual claims into a global class action.
Despite the previous legal barriers, Schrems announced today that the supreme court had agreed to hear the case to choose whether it’ll be considered as a class action or not, though said court is entitled to leave the decision in the hands of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which has already rejected the Safe Harbor transatlantic data sharing agreement, another case that the Austrian activist brought to light against the social networking company.
Last month, the High Court of Ireland — the country where Facebook’s international headquarters are placed — ordered an investigation of the company’s transfer of EU user’s data in order to verify if Facebook was abiding by the privacy laws and if users were protected from the surveillance of the U.S. government.
Schrems stated that all the arguments of his case are written, so there won’t be a hearing in the supreme court. The court will announce its decision in the first months of 2016.
Source: PC World