Lawyer Amassed 25,000 Names Of People Willing To Sue Facebook Over Privacy Breaches
Campaigner and lawyer Max Schrems has amassed a list of 25,000 names belonging to users of the social networking website, Facebook, who are willing to be part of a class-action lawsuit and sue the site for online privacy matters. Schrems had to limit the number of plaintiffs after being inundated with people that wanted to be a part of what could be a ground breaking lawsuit.
Facebook, and other big Internet websites, are plagued with complaints over their use of user data, and Facebook does tend to suffer the brunt of it. However, they do have a tendency to ride roughshod over existing privacy laws, and try to push the boundaries of what is legal and what isn’t.
In this case, Schrems claims that the way data is handled both on-site and off-site means that the social network is in breach of EU privacy laws. He is also questioning the way that the company uses big data and that Facebook cooperated with the Prism US surveillance scheme.
The case is targeted at Facebook’s Irish subsidiary, which deals with all accounts that are outside the US, hence why Schrem was asking for non-US users to sign up for his lawsuit via the Europe V Facebook app. He claims that Graph Search, as well as the company’s external website tracking and big data analysis techniques put the company directly in breach of EU privacy laws.
Mr Schrems has promised the equivalent of $500 compensation to the first 25,000 people that sign up, but he says that the money is merely a side issue, and that the most important factor in all of this is to set a precedent in a bid to try and stop companies from establishing policies that meet US standards, but then applying them outside the US where they do not meet local laws.
Mr Schrems is already involved in another case with Facebook. In 2011, he demanded that the site provide all of the data that they hold on him, and received over 1,000 pages including information that he thought had been deleted from the site. The case has been referred to the European Court of Justice, but Facebook has already introduced a number of restrictions on how it uses data as a result of the action.
Another claim by Schrems is that Facebook willingly participated in the Prism surveillance scheme established by the US government to track and analyse user data, the scheme which came to light following whistle blower Edward Snowden’s leaked surveillance data.
It is quite possible that Facebook will attempt to settle the matter out of court, for fear that the result could prove considerably more damaging to their reputation than any financial settlement figure might prove. One thing is for certain though, with a new member joining the group every six seconds at its peak, is that Schrems isn’t the only one that feels Facebook takes liberties with the personal data of its billions of users.