The highest court in Austria will soon determine whether a major privacy case against Facebook should be awarded class-action status. The case, which is named Schrems v. Facebook, alleges that Facebook has violated the privacy guaranteed to thousands of individuals. Plaintiff Max Schrems has campaigned heavily against Facebook, and he says that the thousands of complaints need to be heard collectively.
Schrems said, “It would not make a lot of sense for the court or the parties before it to file these claims as thousands of individual lawsuits, which we can still do if a 'class action' is not allowed. We therefore think that the 'class action' is not only legal but also the only reasonable way to deal with thousands of identical privacy violations by Facebook.”
Schrems has been trying to obtain class action status for the lawsuit since the beginning of the case. An earlier ruling made the court of appeals reject the proposal of Schrems, citing that it was not in line with procedural law of the European Union. The Supreme Court of Austria is expected to make a decision by early next year.
The case has already had a large impact on the Safe Harbor agreement between the United States and the European Union. The agreement was voided by the European Court of Justice last month. Many Europeans have been concerned by the fact that their personal data is being handled by technology firms in the United States.
If Schrems does obtain class action status, his side will collectively represent more than 25,000 Facebook users who have said that their privacy has been violated. Facebook has denied any wrongdoing, and the website has said that it will do everything it can in order to prevent a class action lawsuit.
The international headquarters for Facebook are located in Ireland. The high court in Ireland has already launched an investigation into how Facebook handles data in the United States.