UPDATED 14:19 EST / NOVEMBER 24 2015


Facebook deals with more EU privacy battles, this time in Austria

Facebook has been fielding accusations of privacy violations in the European Union for some time now, and the social media giant is currently fighting a legal battle in Belgium over how it tracks non-users with cookies. Now, it seems that Facebook could soon be looking at another legal battle in the E.U., this time in Austria.

Earlier this year, Austrian law student and vocal Facebook critic Max Schrems filed a class action lawsuit against the social network after collecting over 75,000 signatures on a petition against the company. The case will soon be heard by Austria’s Supreme Court, which will decide whether or not the suit will be allowed to proceed.

Schrems’ lawsuit is seeking €500 (roughly $532 USD at current rates) in damages for each of the more than 25,000 participants in the case, for a total of over €12.5 million (roughly $13.3 million USD).

“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,” Schrems explained in a statement (via Reuters). “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.”

Facebook has denied that it has committed any privacy violations, and it is currently seeking to block the class action lawsuit in Austria.

Facebook versus Europe

Schrems’ lawsuit is not the first conflict over privacy Facebook has dealt with in Europe, and it is unlikely to be the last. The social network has previously criticized the way the E.U. has been handling privacy regulation, arguing that many of the member states are going against the spirit of the union by attempting to conduct their own separate investigations.

“National authorities are entitled to their differences over how Facebook and other internet companies should be regulated,” Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president of policy in Europe, wrote in Financial Times earlier this year. “But ignoring the rules Europe has so painstakingly crafted, and arrogating the authority that those rules accord to the Irish regulators, is not the answer.”

He added, “The simplest way to resolve their differences is for national regulators to work together, as they have done effectively in the past. That is surely a better approach than to fragment Europe’s single market, and waste resources mounting independent investigations into issues that have already been thoroughly examined.”

Photo by DesignRecipe 

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