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Huge support for Facebook Irish lawsuit

Wednesday, August 06 15:29:51

A lawyer suing Facebook in a class action over online privacy today said he has been overwhelmed with support for the lawsuit, which runs parallel with a case against the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

The class action claims Facebook Ireland is in breach of European law on users' data and it violates rights by tracking internet use on external sites, including the use of "like" buttons.

It also attacks Facebook's analysis of users through what it calls "big data" systems.

Schrems claims the company supports the Prism surveillance programme, the US secret service's worldwide monitoring and data mining exposed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Facebook has several weeks to respond to Schrems's claims.

An earlier landmark battle launched in Ireland to find out what Facebook tells US spy chiefs was referred to the European court of justice by a judge in Dublin last month.

Up to 7,000 users a day from more than 100 countries have registered backing for campaigner Max Schrems's David v Goliath legal challenge in the courts in Austria.

The activist said the case, which could be the largest class and privacy action yet taken, will be restricted to 25,000 members of the social network in order to verify each account.

Schrems said at peak times since last Friday a new user was joining the claim every six seconds.

"We have hoped for large support, but the number of participants in such a short time exceeded my most optimistic expectations," he said.

Germany tops the list for the most people backing the case with 5,287 Facebook users signing up there, while there have been 944 users based in the UK and only 162 from Ireland as of 9am today.

The vast majority of users are based in Europe, and other countries where support is big are Austria with 3,712 users, the Netherlands with 2,438, Finland with 1,179 and Croatia with 1,106.

Schrems said support has been in line with media coverage in most European countries.

"We were well prepared for this huge amount of claims. Nevertheless, we have to limit the claims after this short time, because we will have to verify and administer every individual claim," he said.

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