Tech journal TechCrunch took a look at the Facebook class action filed by Austrian law student Max Schrems, which is seeking the support of non-commercial Facebook users outside of North America. So far, so good they told the mag ‘ there are 11,000 participants signed on for the class action lawsuit.
TechCrunch report that the largest proportion of participants (about 50%) are currently coming from German-speaking countries, followed by “high number” from the Netherlands, Finland and the UK.
“Reasonable numbers come from all European countries and South America,” added a Europe vs Facebook spokesperson.
Specifically, the class action is targeting the following “unlawful acts” on the part of Facebook — as the group sees it:
Data use policy which is invalid under EU law
The absence of effective consent to many types of data use
Support of the NSA’s ‘PRISM’ surveillance programme
Tracking of Internet users on external websites (e.g. through ‘Like buttons’)
Monitoring and analysis of users through ‘big data’ systems
Unlawful introduction of ‘Graph Search’
Unauthorised passing on of user data to external applications
The suit has been brought at the Commercial Court for Vienna against Facebook’s Irish subsidiary. The claimant is Viennese lawyer and data privacy activist Max Schrems, who heads up the Europe vs Facebook group. Schrems will be the sole claimant named, meaning there are no risks that others participating in the action will need to pay any associated costs. The suit is being financed by Austrian law firm ROLAND ProzessFinanz AG — which will net a fifth (20%) of any winnings, as the legal funding provider.
Damages are being set deliberately low, at what Europe vs Facebook describes as “a token €500 per user”. But obviously if enough participants join in the cumulative impact could be considerably more substantial. Indeed, with the current 11,000-strong participation the damages could amount to up to €5.5 million.
“We are only claiming a small amount, as our primary objective is to ensure correct data protection. However, if many thousands of people participate we would reach an amount that will have a serious impact on Facebook’,” said Schrems in a statement.