Activist and law student, Max Schrems, has launched an international class action suit against Facebook Ireland for not being in accordance with European data protection law. Aside from the US and Canada, it is said that anyone can join his suit over at fbclaim.com since they have signed up to Facebook’s terms and conditions through the Dublin-based European HQ.
The actual number of Facebook users who have signed up for an account through the Dublin server is estimated to be at around 82%, having it already gathering 100 participants in just one hour. The suit is said to seek damages of €500 per user for the following breaches:
- Failing to get “effective consent” for using data
- Implementing a legally invalid data use policy
- Tracking users online outside of Facebook via “Like” buttons
- Using big data to monitor users
- Failing to make Graph Search opt-in
- The unauthorized passing of user data to external apps
- Its involvement in NSA’s Prism program, designed to extract personal data from the public’s internet use. (Schrems is pursuing a separate case on this due to be heard by the European Court of Justice.)
Sherms is said to have started the dispute back in 2010, when he asked Facebook to send him all the user data it had on him. He then received 1,200 pages from the social media giant, but Irish regulators, the only people who have the power to fine the social network if it does not comply, have not pushed the rest of Schrem’s Claims through.
“The case was running for three years. So far there is no decision. They usually promise a decision ‘next month’ or ‘soon’, but there was no binding outcome from the complaints for three years now.” said Sherms. “Many people in Ireland say that there is intense political and economic pressure to not enforce the law against the US tech giants there.” he added.
In other ways, Sherms tells that the Irish regulators have run the whole thing like “you would expect from Russia, not from a EU member state”. He states that they are not processing complaints and not providing access to pertinent evidence as well. Everyone with a Facebook account is said to be able to sign up for the suit until the day when evidence is given in Vienna, having press releases announcing that if 10,000 users sign up for the suit, Facebook will have to pay a €5 million fee. It might sound a lot, but given its recent WhatsApp acquisition for $19 billion, it means little to nothing for the social network.