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Facebook needs to defend Austrian privacy violation case

Court rubber-stamps Max Schrems' class action

Emiland De Cubber's alternative PRISM logo

Privacy activist Max Schrems, leader of the “Europe-versus-Facebook” movement, has had a procedural win in Austria that means Facebook Ireland has to prep its defence.

According to Reuters, Schrems says his lawsuit in Austria's Vienna Regional Court has taken a step forward, passing its first review by the court.

As a result, the case will move ahead and Facebook will be required to respond. Facebook has an initial four weeks to provide a response, but can also ask the court for an extension of that time.

Schrems and the 60,000 users he says have signed on for the case are claiming €500 each for privacy violations which they allege include helping America's NSA to mine Facebook user data.

The 60,000 users include 25,000 who originally joined his campaign, each of which need to be reviewed by Schrems' legal team, along with another 35,000 who registered at his site should the lawyers decide that the case can be expanded.

In June this year, a separate case in Ireland was shunted by Ireland's High Court to the European Court of Justice. At that time, High Court Justice Gerard Hogan said Schrems is entitled to object to his data being transferred to a jurisdiction – the US – that offers only weak data protection; he doesn't have to prove specific violations of privacy.

The Irish win came after that country's privacy watchdog, the Irish Data Commissioner, had ruled that Schrems didn't have a case against Facebook. ®

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