According to a legal expert, Austrian data protector Max Schrems can sue European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Austria against Facebook. However, he cannot also assert rights of or Austrian consumers, said ECJ advocate General Michal Bobek in Luxembourg (see PDF).
Schrems had filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook Ireland in Austria. The critic of social network justified lawsuit with alleged violations of Austrian, Irish and European data protection rules. He refore called for determination of wher certain contractual clauses were ineffective and also called on group to refrain from using data and to pay compensation.
Facebook argued that Austrian courts were not responsible for this international lawsuit. Schrems is professionally active for data protection and must refore sue in Ireland. In doing so, Facebook refers to its own terms and conditions, according to which registered office is considered a court location. For consumers, however, re are safeguards under which y can always sue companies for ir domicile.
Therefore, Supreme Court in Austria presented case to ECJ. He confirmed that Schrems used his role as a data protection activist by writing two books on Facebook and holding numerous remunerated lectures. However, Advocate General noted that his consumer status was not lost. Because Schrems had originally registered privately with Facebook and thus concluded his user contract as a consumer. Thus, he can complain about his own claims not only in Ireland but also in Austria.
According to Bobek, however, protection rules for consumers are always only "limited to concrete parties of specific contract". As a result, Schrems could not claim claims that or Austrians ceded to him. According to Advocate general, it is not task of Court of Justice to create such class actions for consumer issues. This may be responsibility of Union legislature, said Bobek.
Prior to ECJ, Schrems was already 2015 in dispute over transfer of Facebook data from European consumers to USA successfully. The judges decided that private data in United States was not sufficiently protected from access by authorities and secret services. The previous regime for transfer of data from European citizens to United States, so-called Safe Harbor Agreement, is invalid.
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