back to article Facebook preps for class action lawsuit as angry EU mob lawyer up

A class action against Facebook over alleged breaches of European privacy laws is being heard in a Vienna district court today. Austrian law graduate Max Schrems and 25,000 other Facebook users are suing the social network. They allege that Facebook violated European citizens' “fundamental rights” (defined in the European …

  1. Graham Marsden
    Holmes

    "Facebook’s opt-out system for advertising...

    "... does not meet the requirements for legally valid consent,"

    Really? But how can "If you use our system we can do what the hell we like" *ever* be considered to be unacceptable...?

    1. Cowboy Bob

      Re: "Facebook’s opt-out system for advertising...

      A EULA can never trump real legislation though. What if it said "By using this system we reserve the right to take your first born into slavery"? Do you think they'd legally be allowed to do it?

      1. Dan Paul

        Re: "Facebook’s opt-out system for advertising...

        If you clicked on it, YES!

    2. James 51

      Re: "Facebook’s opt-out system for advertising...

      Illegal terms are unenforceable and if there is something in the legalise that is illegal, simply putting it in the small print doesn't change the law.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Velv Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: "Facebook’s opt-out system for advertising...

        "Illegal terms are unenforceable..."

        Not only that, but terms which may strictly be legal but are unfair are also unenforceable, although the test of unfair is subjective and would more than likely need to go through a court (oh wait, this case is...)

  2. Dan Paul

    Then expect to pay for Facebook

    If you are stupid enough to click "Okay" on their EULA then you already gave up any rights you have to sue them, regardless of your ignorant politicians rules. The use of EULA's has been tested in courts all over the world. No software could ever be sold online if there were no EULA's.

    Right now, they monetise your personal info and the service is free.

    What Facebook will now have to do for Europe is start charging for the service.

    I figure that they should bang you for at least $20/ month per subscriber.

    Is Facebook really worth it?

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Then expect to pay for Facebook

      I don't know enough about this case to comment specifically.

      However, as already mentioned by previous commentators, existing law takes priority over EULAs, so we are far more protected by default by European consumer laws than you are in corporate-run America.

      1. Dan Paul

        Re: Then expect to pay for Facebook

        The EU has a nasty habit of closing the barn door long after the horses have bolted. They do not have the right to make a law that affects agreements that were in place before the law was implemented.

        If the only choice left is to stop harvesting EU customer data, you will now have to pay for everything that was once free because of it.

        This means ANY service that you access via the Internet, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

        Now you'll owe real money if you want to continue using them.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Then expect to pay for Facebook

          I don't disagree with any of that, apart from the bit about all services being forced to charge EU residents.

          Sure, they may not be able to make as much profit, but advertising worked before the sorts of harvesting we're talking about here, and I'm sure these services will find a way to still turn a profit without charging, which would be a commercially destructive decision.

          Still, I agree with your general point, but meh. I think it's still worth it - if people want to explicitly sign away this info for discounts, then let them, but as it stands, I'm sure most people don't realise how much aggregated info on them is out there, and if privacy laws are being violated, then the perpetrators need to be called to task.

          From what I understand, consumer protection with regards to buying retail products is stronger here than in America, but the consequence of this is that goods are usually more expensive here as a result. Again, meh, I don't know which I prefer, but I do realise the consequence of these laws.

          cheers!

  3. Tapeador
    Mushroom

    This action is fundamentally misguided

    As a matter of law, there is simply no grounds for it. Facebook as a company is based in the USA, the US govt is entitled, for the purpose of national defence, and proportionately, to have access to all the data they require. This isn't a matter of unfair contract terms, it's a matter of the overriding and prior matter of state, prior to politics and popular sovereignty, of physically protecting the public!

    Alternatively, if there is a grounding, then it's vital to note the CJEU jurisprudence always recognised that the treaties could be breached if it was in service of the mandatory requirements of running a viable country. In fact the protection of public safety is everywhere explicitly in the treaties. The Charter requires a balancing exercise and it will always come down in favour of proportionate state action to protect the public - and that need not be EU states only, but states anywhere.

    1. People's Poet

      Re: This action is fundamentally misguided

      No the US Government isn't entitled to access to said data, especially if said data is held on servers outside of the US. You sound like a Yank who's been blinded into thinking that having your liberty taken away is OK as long as you're free which without liberty will never be the case & safe (although from whom, certainly not your government).

    2. Stork Silver badge

      Re: This action is fundamentally misguided

      No it is not. If I am registered with Facebook's subsidiary in Ireland, it should logically be Irish law governing what they can do with my data. Otherwise, why have the Irish subsidiary?

      I know the US gov. (and a fair number of it's citizens) has a problem accepting the sovereignty of other countries, but MS is already running a case about this.

      1. Spoonsinger

        Re: This action is fundamentally misguided

        " If I am registered with Facebook's subsidiary in Ireland, it should logically be Irish law governing what they can do with my data.Otherwise, why have the Irish subsidiary?"

        I think it's something to do with how technology/progress can outstrip convention/laws quite quickly in short sharp bursts.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This action is fundamentally misguided

      As a matter of law, there is simply no grounds for it. Facebook as a company is based in the USA,

      No - it is not. As a matter of law for the purposes of Eu Data protection law, Facebook, Apple, Paypal, Microsoft and Google are companies based in the Republic of Ireland. Similarly, Amazon is a company based and registered in Luxembourg which is also in the Eu.

      They are obliged to comply with Eu law, end of story. They signed under that the day they registered as companies there.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: This action is fundamentally misguided

        Exactly. They went there for the tax breaks and forgot about the "other" laws... Most convenient, yes?

      2. Dan Paul

        Re: This action is fundamentally misguided @AC

        ONLY the subsidaries are bound by the EU, not the parent corporation. These subsidaries were easy to setup and they are easy to fold up. If Facebook the parent corporation doesn't like what they see happening then who's to say they don't just bag the whole European subsidary? Easy enough to fiddle with the books as it is, let alone to spitefully close shop and go titsup where they are not "wanted". Voila, they would be untouchable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This action is fundamentally misguided @AC

          Voila, they would be untouchable.

          Not quite. They will not be touched on this occasion, but this also means that they will abandon this market FOREVER, because the moment they try to set up shop again they will get the bill for the last time with punitive interest.

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