An Austrian class-action lawsuit is taking Facebook to task for sharing users’ personal data with third parties like the U.S. government.
The lawsuit advanced to a preliminary hearing in the Vienna Regional Court today.
A press release issued today via the plaintiff’s site, FBclaim.com, accuses the social media network of “various [European Union] data protection laws,” including “illegal collection and transfer of data; spying on the browsing behavior of users; or the participation in the NSA spy program ‘PRISM.'”
The suit was filed last year by plaintiff Maximilian “Max” Schrems of Vienna, with the support of activist group Europe vs. Facebook, and has 25,000 participants. They are requesting damages of 500 Euros per person.
Reuters reports that during today’s four-hour hearing, Facebook’s lawyers argued that the case should not be allowed to advance further for technical reasons and did not address the lawsuit’s allegations:
“The lawsuit is inadmissible on the procedural level — the court is not responsible,” Facebook’s lawyer Nikolaus Pitkowitz told the judge. “It is unjustified in terms of content.”
The plaintiff’s press release calls the defense’s actions “delay tactics”:
“This is a typical strategy, because most consumers will run out of time and money. This case is luckily backed by a procedure financing company, so the delay tactics will hardly work in the end.”
German litigation funding firm Roland ProzessFinanz is financing the case, the press release states. If the plaintiffs win, the firm will reportedly receive 20 percent of any awards.
Reuters reports that the judge said today that a written decision on whether the court can handle the suit would be issued by the summer.
The 25,000 participants are from 34 different countries, according to the press release. Most are from Germany (5,750), Austria (3,917) or other European nations, but some are from Latin America or the Middle East.
Another 50,000 participants have also registered to join the lawsuit later, and additional potential participants can still register to join at FBclaim.com.
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