Out of all the popular social media, Facebook has come under the most fire when it comes to how to treat the privacy of their users. Because of this, Facebook has been under legal heat from a group called Europe vs Facebook. Their latest legal initiative involves a class action lawsuit against Facebook that may net those of you who sign up €500 ($670).
So far, there has been 11,000 sign-ups for the Facebook class action lawsuit in just the first weekend since launching the lawsuit. Just about 50 percent of those who have signed up so far are from German-speaking countries with a high amount being from the Netherlands, Finland and the UK and the even reasonable numbers coming from all European countries and South America.
Who Can Participate in the Facebook Class Action Lawsuit?
It’s important to note that the class action lawsuit doesn’t apply to the United States and Canada. The lack of legal coverage is the result of Canada and the United states having their own contract with Facebook. For the rest of the world, the contract they agreed to when they decided to use Facebook comes from a contract made with Facebook Ireland and the lawsuit only covers those who have agreed to the Facebook Ireland agreement.
How Has Facebook Violated Privacy Laws?
According to the legal group, Facebook has violated the following EU privacy laws:
- Data use policy that is invalid under EU law
- The absence of effective consent to many types of data use
- Support of the NSA’s ‘PRISM’ surveillance programme
- Tracking of Internet users on external websites (e.g. through ‘Like buttons’)
- Monitoring and analysis of users through ‘big data’ systems
- Unlawful introduction of ‘Graph Search’
- Unauthorised passing on of user data to external applications
The lawsuit will be held under the jurisdiction of Australia through the Commercial Court for Vienna against Facebook Ireland. The sole claimant of the lawsuit is Max Schrems, who is also the guy in charge of the Europe vs. Facebook group. Being the sole claimant will allow Max Schrems to assume all the risk in case the lawsuit backfires while ensuring that if everything goes right, those who singed up will get their payouts. According to Tech Crunch, “The suit is being financed by Austrian law firm ROLAND ProzessFinanz AG — which will net a fifth (20%) of any winnings, as a legal funding provider.”
According to Schrems, the seemingly low amount of €500 was set because the primary focus of the lawsuit isn’t for financial gain, but rather “to ensure correct data protection.” Schrems goes on to note that “if many thousands of people participate we would reach an amount that will have a serious impact on Facebook.” With the 11,000 of those who have registered so far hoping for a €500 payout, Facebook is already staring down €5.5 million ($7.4 million) barrel that is sure to continue growing.
Obtaining 11,000 and making it look easy is no small feat considering the requirements necessary to participate in the class action lawsuit against Facebook. Even if sign up was available to the United States, the fact that a provide a government issued I.D. to these lawyers is a huge turn off. I’d rather give me Facebook information to Facebook than to give a bunch of lawyers I just heard of my I.D.
The reason for the I.D. is provided on FB Claim’s FAQ page reading:
Unfortunately we have to proof to the court that we are representing real people that have a specific Facebook account. On an international scale, this is only possible through copies of the relevant documents. We know that this is a serious problem for many users, but right now we have no other practical option.
Some other qualifications that one should note is that you must have a Facebook account, even if that Facebook account contains inaccurate information. However, the account must be able to identify you as the owner. With that said, you’ll also have to log in with your Facebook to qualify.
There is also an age that restricts anyone under the age of 18 from joining in on the lawsuit. This restriction is made for legal reasons according to the FAQ over at FBClaim.com.
So if you don’t live in the United States or Canada, are over the age of 18, own a Facebook account that largely represents you and you don’t mind giving your government issued I.D. to a bunch of lawyers over in Australia, the Facebook class action lawsuit is your ticket to a shot at $670.
On a personal note, if you can get over the fact that you have to submit a government I.D. in order to qualify for the class action lawsuit against Facebook, we strongly recommend doing so. There are zero repercussions for signing up outside of about 10-15 minutes of the time required to do so. The more people sign up is the more it will highlight how Facebook has been to taking advantage of our data, even for those of us in the United States and Canada. So if you can sign up, please do so and do so knowing that you are representing the United States, Canada and the world in the fight against privacy abuse.