Court rejects Facebook privacy case

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Max Schrems
Max Schrems says he will continue to pursue Facebook in the courts

A privacy campaigner has been dealt a setback in a legal battle with Facebook.

A court in Vienna has rejected the case brought by Max Schrems saying that it lacked jurisdiction in the matter.

Mr Schrems hoped the court would consider claims that the social network broke EU data protection laws because of the way it collected and forwarded users’ details.

Facebook welcomed the ruling. But Mr Schrems said he intended to fight on.

“The matter will… be decided in another round at the Higher Regional Court and can be further appealed to the Austrian Supreme Court,” the law student said.

Mr Schrems initially tried to bring his “class action” case on behalf of 25,000 Facebook users to a commercial court in Vienna in 2014, but it too said the matter was beyond its remit.

In the latest case, a court spokeswoman said that Mr Schrems did not have an automatic right to bring the case in his home country of Austria because he was acting more like an organisation than a consumer.

Facebook said it believed the litigation was “unnecessary” and that it was pleased with the latest ruling.

Facebook’s office in Dublin is its biggest outside of California

“We remain happy to work with our regulator, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, to address any questions about our commitment to protecting people’s information,” said a spokeswoman.

Mr Schrems had previously attempted to get the Irish Data Protection Commission to investigate allegations that Facebook – which bases its European headquarters in Dublin – co-operated with US intelligence agencies by handing over data from Europeans.

However, the regulator declined to pursue the matter – a decision that Mr Schrems subsequently challenged in the Irish High Court.

The issue was then referred to the European Court of Justice, which has yet to issue an opinion.