Lawsuit Filed Against Facebook Could Net You Some Euros

This could get interesting. An Austrian activist filed a class-action lawsuit against Facebook on Friday for violating users' privacy. The suit is technically against the subsidiary Facebook Ireland, but since pretty much anyone outside of the U.S. and Canada signed up for their accounts through that branch, the suit could have far-reaching implications. Anyone who falls into that category is cordially invited to join the suit against our social-media overlords. If it's successful, those involved could net €500 (or around $671) for each user named in the suit. Hey, with Facebook going down multiple times this summer, you have reason to be mad at them.

Student activist and lawsuit originator Max Schrems alleges that Facebook has violated numerous European privacy laws and already has one suit pending against the company at the European Court of Justice. After failing to get a sufficient response from Irish authorities to his more than 20 complaints, Schrems brought his current class-action suit to Vienna's Commercial Court. (Because European consumer law allows claimants to file suit in their own countries and avoid all that pesky border-crossing.) Schrems actually has a long history of activism against the company and is the founder of Europe Vs. Facebook, a website whose activism has already led to Facebook's suspending its facial recognition tool.

But the class-action suit isn't addressing just one measly aspect of Facebook's operation. As Schrems told the Daily Mail, "We love to complain constantly about data protection problems in Europe, now it's also time for us to enforce our fundamental rights." According to the lawsuit's website, the claim is for a wide-ranging array of privacy violations:

For this lawsuit we have chosen basic or obvious violations of the law: The privacy policy, participation in the PRISM program, Facebook’s graph search, apps on Facebook, tracking on other web pages (e.g. via the "like buttons"), "big data" systems that spy on users or the non-compliance with access requests.

Schrems's current suit at the European Court of Justice is also related to Facebook's PRISM compliance. And although Facebook might not like it, the class-action might actually be going somewhere. Within an hour of the claim's website going live, 100 people had already signed up for the suit. If 9,900 more join, Facebook will have to pay a €5 million ($6.7 million) fee. So if your Facebook account is outside the U.S. and Canada and you want a chance at €500 to call your own (or you just want Facebook to pay the fine), I'm sure Schrems would love to have you.