Facebook sued: Data protection trial opens in Vienna as 25,000 users seek damages for privacy violation

Facebook founder, chairman and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg (Source: Getty)
A Vienna court yesterday started hear­ing a class action lawsuit against Facebook over the social media giant’s alleged violations of European privacy laws.

However, the first, four-hour, session was bogged down by Facebook’s lawyers, who presented a long list of procedural objections to the court.

The suit has been brought by law student Max Schrems, 27, who is claiming €500 (£362) in damages for each of the 25,000 users who are part of the action.

The suit is the latest of several legal challenges in Europe and the US to Facebook for the way it shares users’ personal data with businesses or governments.

Schrems has said this may become a test case for European data protection laws.

“The lawsuit is inadmissible on the procedural level – the court is not responsible,” Facebook’s lawyer Nikolaus Pitko­witz told the judge. “It is unjustified in terms of content.”

Schrems accused Facebook of engaging in delaying tactics. “This is a typical strategy, because most consumers will run out of time and money,” he said.

Schrems himself is barred from receiving a payout if the case succeeds for legal reasons. “I think we can heighten data protection with this lawsuit,” Schrems’ lawyer Wolfram Proksch told reporters after the session.

With an additional 50,000 people waiting to join the suit.

However, the €500 per person figure could snowball into something much larger.

Facebook declined to comment outside of stating that the Irish Data Protect­ion Commissioner has previously reviewed and cleared its practices.

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