Facebook privacy is under the spotlight again, this time in the CJEU, Europe’s top court, as they face a ruling on whether charges against the social media giant can be categorized as class action.
Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems first brought the case against them in 2014 when he called for private Facebook users outside of North America to rally behind his class action. Thousands swiftly joined the cause while Facebook are disputing his right to file a class action. Schrems is covering new ground in what will be his third class action against Facebook.
The Austrian legal system does not have a law on class actions so Shrems and his lawyers devised the plan on assigning one person (Max Shrems) to file the claim on the behalf of many, with the plan to redistribute damages to all involved.
Facebook want the case to be dismissed on the grounds that Austrian courts don’t have jurisdiction and the case is inadmissible. To date, the case has progressed from the Vienna Commercial Court to the regional court and Supreme Court, who have finally referred two critical elements to the CJEU.
The first point referred is whether a consumer can in fact sue in a home court if they choose to engage publicly in a legal fight. The second is whether the ‘other’ plaintiffs in the case can transfer their claims to someone else, thus creating a defacto class action. Shrems’ lawyers response is logical on the surface, stating that’s it’s much more reasonable for consumers to file a collective action rather than individually filing thousands of separate cases around the world.
Schrems claims that Facebook are pinning him as a ‘commercial activist’, preventing consumer rights being aired publicly.
Through a spokesperson, Facebook have stated that his class actions have been rejected twice in the past and they’re looking forward to resolving the claims presented to the CJEU.