Austrian Student's Class Action Against Facebook Gets 60,000 Plaintiffs

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Austrian Student's Class Action Against Facebook Gets 60,000 Plaintiffs

An Austrian law student said his class action challenging Facebook for alleged privacy violations had gathered support from 60,000 users and passed its first legal review.

Max Schrems, who already has a case involving the social network pending at the European Court of Justice, is claiming damages of EUR 500 ($663) per user from U.S.-listed Facebook. The $195 billion company has 1.32 billion active users.

Schrems said the Vienna Regional Court had ordered Facebook Ireland to respond within four weeks to his claims, which include that the social network aided the U.S. National Security Agency in mining the personal data of Facebook users.

Facebook Ireland, which runs the company's international activities, was not immediately available to comment.

Austrian law is generally favourable to data privacy, but Schrems is also seeking injunctions under EU data protection law at the court in Vienna.

(Also See: Austrian Student Starts Global Class Action Lawsuit Against Facebook)

Under Austrian law, a group of people may transfer their financial claims to a single person - in this case, Schrems. Legal proceedings are then effectively run as a class action.

Schrems closed the list of plaintiffs earlier this month after 25,000 people joined the campaign, because his legal team needed to verify and administer each one.

"We hoped for broad support, but the number ... has exceeded my most optimistic expectations. With this number of participants, we have a great basis to stop complaining about privacy violations and actually do something about it," said Schrems at the news of 25,000 plaintiffs.

Since then, another 35,000 have registered on www.fbclaim.com to join the class action should it expand later, Schrems said on Thursday.

Edited by NDTV staff from original story by Reuters

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