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Facebook lawsuit moving forward despite setback

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Facebook lawsuit moving forward despite setback
Facebook - getting into everyone's business. Photo: APA (epa)
10:22 CEST+02:00
The first Austrian court to hear a lawsuit organized on behalf of 25,000 Facebook users regarding data privacy rejected the suit, but has referred it to another court this week.

Austrian law student Max Schrems has a history of successfully confronting the giant US corporation Facebook over its privacy protections.

Together with a German law firm working on a contingency basis, Schrems has pulled together 25,000 non-US Facebook users into a class action suit, which covers a variety of privacy-related topics, including the social network's alleged participation in the NSA's Prism initiative, and other unlawful monitoring and lack of consent to data gathering.

A spokesman for the commercial court which first heard the claim described the rejection as merely a procedural decision, and according to PCWorld, said "It is a claim that doesn’t belong at the commercial court, but belongs at the regional court for civil cases."

The regional court completed its initial "a limine" review, and has ordered Facebook Ireland - which is responsible for all Facebook users outside of the USA and Canada - to respond within four weeks.

Schrems' group, 'Europe v. Facebook' said in a statement:

"The Vienna Regional Court has reviewed the class action against Facebook Ireland. After the “a limine” review was passed, the court now ordered Facebook Ireland to respond within four weeks. The order is very likely on the way to Facebook via registered mail. The first step in the legal procedure is hereby taken. Facebook Ireland may be able to get an extension of this time limit of an additional four weeks. If Facebook Ireland would refuse to submit a counterstatement, the court would be able to make a judgment in absence based on the lawsuit."

"So far, more than 25.000 Facebook users from outside of the U.S. and Canada have assigned their claims to join the class action, in what has become the largest privacy class action in Europe overnight. An additional 35.000 users have registered on www.fbclaim.com to assign their claims."

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