An effort to launch a court case that involves thousands of people against Facebook regarding privacy has been dismissed by the top court of Europe.
A class action lawsuit is a case that represents various people that are led by only one person. The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) has ruled that it cannot be brought by Max Schrems, a privacy campaigner.
The court said, however, that he can initiate an individual claim in Austria, his own country. However, he can not do it on behalf of the 25,000 supporters that he had gathered.
In 2015, Schrems won a landmark case which revoked the long-standing agreement between Europe and the United States of America over data sharing that is known as Safe Harbour.
Schrems claims that Facebook infringed the law by violating the rights to privacy of users and had been asking for damages amounting to €500 for every signatory that is involved in the lawsuit. The tech giant had argued that he was not protected by consumer laws.
“Today’s decision by the ECJ supports the previous decisions of two courts that Mr Schrems’ claims cannot proceed in Austrian courts as a class action on behalf of other consumers,” stated a Facebook spokesperson.
Schrems claimed that the ruling was a victory. However, it was giving him the go-ahead to begin a lawsuit in Austria.
Schrems stated: “For three years Facebook has been fighting nail and toe against the court’s jurisdiction in Austria and lost.
“Now, we can finally go ahead with the case. Facebook will now have to explain to a neutral court whether its business model is in line with stringent European privacy laws. This is a huge blow for them.
“Unfortunately the court of Justice has not taken up the golden opportunity to finally establish collective redress options in Europe, but kicked the ball back to the legislator.”