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Principale » Facebook Challenger in Austria Stumbles in Collective Suit

Facebook Challenger in Austria Stumbles in Collective Suit

14 Novembre 2017

He is now trying to sue the company's Irish division in Austrian court, not only for violating his own privacy, but the privacy of about 25,000 signatories who live in Austria, Germany and India.

Should the Court rule in line with Bobek's opinion, then it would require Schrems to file the collective lawsuit in Ireland where Facebook is based.

A doctoral candidate specializing in information-technology law and data-protection law, Schrems has used Facebook since 2008. His hope is to claim 500 euros ($576) in damages for each of them, or about $12.5 million euros.

Schrems has published two books just about this case.

A run-in with Facebook is nothing new for the activist, who was responsible for bringing the case that resulted in the EU's highest court declaring in 2015 that Safe Harbor, the US-Europe data-sharing pact, was illegal. The EU Court of Justice's advocate-general found that Schrems could not add people from other countries to his case, as this type of global collective action is not possible in EU courts.

Bobek also clarified that Austrian courts have jurisdiction over Facebook's subsidiary in Dublin.

Bobek said that publishing or lecturing in the field "do [es] not entail the loss of consumer status" for claims about a private, personal Facebook account.

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However, the advocate general sided with Schrems over his own status.

"Knowledge, experience, civic engagement or the fact of having reached certain renown due to litigation do not in themselves prevent someone from being a consumer", the opinion notice read.

"A consumer who is entitled to sue his foreign contact partner in his own place of domicile, can not invoke, at the same time as his own claims, claims on the same subject assigned by other consumers", the European Union top court's Advocate General Michal Bobek said.

"The rules in question clearly show that the jurisdictional consumer privilege is always limited to the concrete and specific parties to the contract", the press release states.

The advocate general was responding to a request for clarity from Vienna's supreme court on its own jurisdiction over the case and the issue of class action lawsuits. "It would be incompatible with these rules to allow a consumer to also make use of this privilege for claims assigned to him by other consumers purely for litigation purposes. It could lead to unrestrained targeted assignment to consumers in any jurisdiction with more favourable case-law, lower costs or more generous jurisdictional aid, potentially leading to the overburdening of some jurisdictions".

The advocate general added that there should be some form of collective redress for consumer protection, but that this was better served by legislation than the courts.

Facebook Challenger in Austria Stumbles in Collective Suit