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Austrian Court Refers Facebook Privacy Case to European Court

There are more than 25,000 signatories to the lawsuit
By The News · 12 of September 2016 12:28:05
A file photo of Facebook Executive President Mark Zuckerberg during an event in the headquarters of the company in Menlo Park California Sept. 27, 2015, No available, photo: Reuters/Stephen Lam

VIENNA – Austria’s Supreme Court on Monday referred to the European Court of Justice a class action case brought against Facebook by an Austrian law student over privacy issues.

Max Schrems is claiming 500 euros ($562) in damages for each of more than 25,000 signatories to his lawsuit, the latest in a series of European challenges to U.S. technology firms and their handling of personal data.

Schrems has already successfully challenged Europe’s so-called Safe Harbour data exchange system with the United States on privacy grounds, resulting in a new commercial data pact between the EU and the United States taking effect in July.

But Schrems’ other case has so far been fended off by Facebook in Austrian courts due to procedural concerns, questioning Schrems’ status as a private Facebook consumer and whether the 25,000 plaintiffs were legally allowed to confer their rights on him.

“The Court of Justice [has been] rather consumer friendly when it decided over jurisdictions. I hope that we will see a similar decision in this case. Filing thousands of individual lawsuits before thousands of courts would be an absurd exercise,” Schrems said in an emailed statement.

Facebook officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.