Thousands of disgruntled Facebook users are suing the social network over claims their privacy rights have been violated. Austrian law graduate Max Schrems is spearheading the claim over what he says is a ‘wild west’ attitude to data protection among tech companies.
The class action stems from the Facebook’s alleged involvement in the NSA’s PRISM surveillance programme (which it has denied) and tracking of data, which Schrems says violates EU privacy laws.
He is bringing the case against Facebook’s European division in Dublin, where all of its accounts outside the US and Canada are registered, accounting for around 80% of users. The 25,000 are asking for a ‘token’ payout of €500 (£363) each, which would amount to a total claim of €12.5m.
It’s hard to say how successful the case might be; American tech companies have a well-established track record of outfoxing the European authorities, and Facebook’s pretty adamant that it’s done nothing illegal. But what it does demonstrate is consumers’ increasing awareness of data privacy issues, and their willingness to pursue claims against those who they think have wronged them. That’s something all businesses ought to take note of.