With social media sites, personal privacy of data has been always been a rather hot topic of conversation. Recently, with the whole issue of Facebook altering some users’ News Feeds, the topic of how our data is being used with these sites has become and even more heated area than usual. A group in Europe have started to rally together a class action lawsuit against Facebook and have already gathered more than 11,000 total members to join the movement.
The lawsuit is open to anyone who lives outside of the United States or Canada who are non-commercial adult users of Facebook. As of right now, over half of those that have joined come from German countries, while the UK, Netherlands and Finland also are reporting high numbers of individuals joining the class action lawsuit. This lawsuit was initiated by the Europe Vs. Facebook privacy campaign, and according to one member of the campaign, “It is much more than we expected.” The whole Europe Vs. Facebook initiative was started by Max Schrems who sued Facebook Ireland over privacy violations for Facebook users that were outside of the United States and Canada.
In regards to this new class action specifically, some of the key points that it is targeting include unauthorized passing of of user data to external applications, tracking of Internet users on external websites, data use policy that is invalid under European law and more acts that the group is seeing as “unlawful acts”. This lawsuit has already been brought to the attention of the Commercial Court for Vienna against Facebook Ireland. Max Schrems will be the only claimant named with this lawsuit. This means that the 11,000 and counting members that are joining face no risks when doing so, as Schrems will be the sole member held accountable for the whole situation.
With the class action lawsuit, the group is looking to get just €500 per user that joins the lawsuit. While this is a relatively small amount of money, it is looking like it could add up rather quickly. With the estimated 11,000 members already joined in the lawsuit, the total damages have already amounted up to as much as €5.5 million. In a recent statement by Max Schrems, the leader of this movement said “We are only claiming a small amount, as our primary objective is to ensure correct data protection. However, if many thousands of people participate we would reach an amount that will have a serious impact on Facebook.” The Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) wrote to both opposing sides on the Atlantic recently about the issue. In the letter of which the TACD wrote to ODPC and FTC officials, the organization said that “We urge you to act immediately to notify the company that it must suspend its proposed change in business practices to determine whether it complies with current U.S. and EU law. Moreover, we ask you to publish your findings so that your investigations can be subject to a public assessment and review.”
The courts will now mail the lawsuit to Facebook, and the company will then have 8 weeks to respond to the issue. An initial hearing is expected to take place by the end of this year.