Privacy campaign group Europe-v-Facebook is inviting Facebook users outside the U.S. and Canada to join a lawsuit against the company, which it alleges violates privacy laws.
Europe-v-Facebook's front man Max Schrems filed suit with the commercial court in Vienna, Austria, where he lives, the group said Friday on a website devoted to the case, fbclaim.com.
Schrems sued Facebook Ireland, which is responsible for processing the data of users outside the U.S. and Canada. Under EU law, consumers can always sue businesses at the relevant court of their home country. Moreover, the Austrian courts have reasonable fees compared to other countries, the group explained.
Austrian law doesn't allow for the kind of class action lawsuit seen in the U.S., where it is possible for a group of people to collectively sue a company. However, it does allow interested parties to assign their claims to a single person, who can then sue on their behalf and redistribute any damages awarded, according to Europe-v-Facebook.
"Because it took a lot of effort to put this lawsuit together and there are many other people in the same position, it made sense to also invite other users to join the lawsuit," the group said.
People who want to join the suit can fill in a form on fbclaim.com.
Schrems is suing Facebook for €500 (US$670) in damages and unjust enrichment, and the group said on Twitter that every individual claim added to the suit will also be set to €500. "This is intentionally low because our main aim is to enforce our fundamental rights," the group said. In similar cases courts have awarded higher amounts, ranging from €750 for minor violations up to a €2,000 in other cases, it said.
Closely related claims can be added to the original claim up until the last day of the hearing under Austrian procedural law, the group said.
There is no direct risk for participants because all the legal risks are with Schrems, who is funded by Roland ProzessFinanz, a German legal financing provider, the group said. Roland will be responsible for any legal fees and if the group wins will get 20 percent of the awarded amount, after costs, it added.
"Of course Facebook could theoretically try to take other actions against users or participants. Facebook could e.g. delete accounts of participants. Such actions are however very unlikely, would itself be hardly legal and very likely a huge PR disaster," the group said.
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