Facebook under fire: Student starts global class action suit

Austrian law student Max Schrems appealed to a billion Facebook users around the world on Friday to join a class-action lawsuit against Facebook’s alleged violations of its users’ privacy, stepping up a years-long data-protection campaign. 26-year-old Schrems, a thorn in Facebook’s side who has a case involving the social network pending at the European Court of Justice, has filed a claim at Vienna’s commercial court and invited others to join the action at www.fbclaim.com using their Facebook login. Under Austrian law, a group of people may transfer their financial claims to a single person - in this case, Schrems.

Our aim is to make Facebook finally operate lawfully in the area of data protection.

U.S. National Security Agency

Schrems is claiming damages of 500 euros per user for alleged data violations, including aiding the U.S. National Security Agency in running its Prism program, which mined the personal data of users of Facebook and other Web services. Facebook has come under fire before for allegedly violating data-protection laws. Most recently, Britain’s data watchdog began investigating a 2012 experiment on unwitting users, in which it tried to alter their emotional state to see if their postings turned more positive or negative

We have this habit of pointing the finger at the United States, but we’re not enforcing our rights anyway. If we can get a class action through like this, it will send out a huge signal to the industry overall.

Max Schrems