Facebook Sued For Involvement With NSA, Given Four Weeks Deadline
Facebook has been caught in the headlights again, this time being sued for violating user privacy by cooperating with the PRISM program by NSA. The class action has been launched against Facebook by an Austrian activist and lawyer, Max Schrems, supported by 60,000 users.
Last year, Edward Snowden, a whistleblower from NSA revealed top secret documents to The Guardian that uncovered the ugly truths about how the government had been keeping a check on each and every citizen’s phone records, social media accounts (through PRISM), and even tapping world leaders’ phones.
This caused a global uproar, where protests were carried out and attempts were made to sue companies. More so, the impact didn’t only apply to the alleged companies, a report from the Pentagon described the consequences having a “grave and staggering impact” on the U.S. Defence.
Schrems, the founder of Europe vs Facebook group, tweeted that the class action has passed its first review in the Vienna Regional Court. Facebook Ireland, which deals with the company’s activities apart from U.S. and Canada, has been ordered to submit a counter-statement within four weeks.
— europe-v-facebook (@europevfacebook) August 21, 2014
The class action, being declared as “the largest privacy class action in Europe,” has been joined by 25,000 users, with 35,000 more users registered on www.fbclaim.com, willing to join the action if it expands. However, Facebook Ireland will be granted the opportunity to request the court to extend the time limit for its statement from four to eight weeks. In case where Facebook fails to deliver the counter-statement, the court is eligible to make the judgment in its absence.
Schrems filed the class action in the beginning of August, choosing the “obvious violations” of Facebook in light of Europe’s data protection law. He has targeted the following areas of Facebook to pursue this action:
- Participation in PRISM
- Graph search
- Apps on Facebook
- Tracking on other web pages
- ‘Big data’ systems that spy on users
Facebook has 1.32 billion active users and is worth around $195 billion. Schrems seeks out for compensation of €500 to each supporter of the class action, in case the dice rolls in his favor in court.
However, Schrems is not only filing the charges for money: he has previously been at dagger ends with Facebook when he requested the company to disclose all information it had about him and received a pile of over 1200 pages in return. So his goal is to force Facebook to oblige with its privacy policies – not just at the user end.