Lawsuit Against Facebook Draws Wide Support

Image: Lawsuit Against Facebook Draws Wide Support (Sven Hoppe/DPA/Landov)

Wednesday, 06 Aug 2014 12:34 PM

By John Blosser

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A lawyer suing Facebook Inc. in Austria has received an outpouring of support, The Guardian reported.

Max Schrems, 26, an Austrian Facebook gadfly for years, is attracting support of Europeans who believe that Facebook is violating privacy laws on the continent by tracking users' presence on other Internet sites and by cooperating in the U.S. intelligence community's PRISM spy program revealed by former National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to the newspaper. reports.

Reuters reported Wednesday
that 25,000 people had joined in the group suing Facebook.

However, Schrems reports on his website that the actual number is well over 25,000.

Schrems told the Guardian that over 7,000 people each day have been registering their support for the case through his website and, "We were well prepared for this huge amount of claims. Nevertheless, we have to limit the claims after this short time, because we will have to verify and administer every individual claim."

The majority, 5,287, come from Germany, while 944 U.K. residents, 162 Irish, 3,712 Austrians, 2,438 Dutch, 1,179 Finns and 1,106 Croatians signed up, according to the latest available figures.

"With this number of participants, we have a great basis to stop complaining about privacy violations and actually do something about it. If we are successful, the outcome will, of course, have a positive impact on all users," Schrems told the Guardian.

Would-be claimants still will be signed up and may be included if the class action suit is expanded, with a payout of about $670 per individual if the lawsuit is successful. The case is being brought in the Commercial Court for Vienna and is directed against Facebook's Irish subsidiary.

After Schrems forced Facebook to delete data and cancel its facial recognition program in Ireland, he said in a press release, Irish authorities started dragging their political feet out of fears that Ireland might lose its IT industry, which led to the current lawsuit being filed in Austria.

Facebook has 1.32 billion users according to Reuters, and is valued at nearly $200 billion.
Schrems sought support from Facebook users on the internet, and said in the press release, "Each additional participant also increases the pressure on Facebook. Our aim is to make Facebook finally operate lawfully in the area of data protection."

"We are only claiming a small amount, as our primary objective is to ensure correct data protection," Schrems wrote. "However, if many thousands of people participate we would reach an amount that will have a serious impact on Facebook."

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