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Facebook faces privacy lawsuit

August 1, 2014

Privacy activists in Austria have launched a class action lawsuit against Facebook. The head of the initiative has called on users around the world to join the cause and put pressure on the social media giant.

Symbolbild Facebook
Image: Reuters

Austrian lawyer and data protection activist Max Schrems on Friday filed the lawsuit at Vienna's commercial court over Facebook allowing its users' data to be used by the US government for surveillance program PRISM, and other alleged breaches of EU consumer laws.

Schrems is suing for a symbolic sum of 500 euros ($671) for each claimant, saying the main concern is about reforming Facebook's privacy practices rather than money.

The lawsuit only applies to Facebook members outside the US and Canada, who are handled by Facebook Ireland. Users in the North America have their contracts with Facebook USA.

Schrems urged Facebook members to join the lawsuit against Facebook Ireland Ltd.

"Each additional participant increases the pressure on Facebook," he said.

Schrems previously initiated an investigation into Facebook by the Irish data protection agency, founding the group Europe vs. Facebook.

"We initially made great progress in Ireland. Facebook had to delete data and turn off face recognition worldwide because of our complaints," he said. "Over time, it became clear that the Irish authorities had no interest in enforcing substantial change."

dr/jr (dpa, Reuters)