Facebook is facing more than mere crticism for its handling of personal user information. It is the focus of a class action lawsuit in the European union brought on by Max Schrems.
Schrems, a 26-year-old law student in Austria, alleges that Facebook has breached European privacy law. The suit was filed in Vienna's Commercial Court.
The lawsuit, which has broad jurisdiction in the European Union because Facebook's data center is located in Ireland, will transfer all user's claim to Schrem to litigate on their behalf, according to a recent report. Schrems is seeking injunctions against Facebook as well as damages of 500 euros ($670) per claimant. With Facebook's billions of users, that could amount to a very large sum, should enough people sign up at www.fbclaim.com.
This is hardly the first time that Facebook has been litigated for privacy reasons. As this Tech Times article from January notes, the company was also sued in the United States for scanning private messages and sharing information with third parties such as advertisers and data aggregators. Two American Facebook users, Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley, said the practice violated the U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act and California privacy and unfair competition laws.
This also isn't Schrems first go-round with the multibillion dollar social media enterprise. Schrems was the first European to request that Facebook disclose all information it had about him and he received a stack of 1,222 pages, according to a report. He also forced the company into abandoning its facial recognition tagging for violation of privacy and just last year he filed suit for the social network's involvement in the National Security Agency's controversial Prism program that was outed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Schrems said the objective is to force Facebook into following data privacy protection laws and respecting users' privacy, according to another report. It could be one of the largest suits filed against Facebook if enough users become involved. The firm that has funded the campaign for Schrems will receive 20 percent of the money from damages if the suit is successful in the European court.
Facebook is one of the most-used websites and web services on the planet. The company is worth nearly $200 billion. The CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, was sued by other Harvard students after he used ideas they had to build the social network that exists today.