Graf & Pitkowitz is representing Facebook in a class action-style lawsuit brought in Vienna by Max Schrems, an Austrian law school graduate claiming EUR 500 for each of the 25,000 users in the class who have transferred their claims. G&P is seeking to have the case dismissed as outside the Vienna regional court’s jurisdiction. It has not yet commented on the merits of the case itself.
Schrems is one of 8 co-complainants claiming damages for alleged data violations by Facebook, alleging that Facebook’s data policy is invalid under EU law, that there is insufficient effective consent to many types of its use of data, that Facebook tracks its users on external websites through it’s “Like" buttons, and that Facebook passes on user data to external applications without authorization.
Schrems has established himself as a thorn in Facebook’s side. He operates an organization called “Europe vs. Facebook,” and as a law student he filed 23 complaints against Facebook with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner. (Facebook’s European operations are based in Dublin). Schrems ultimately withdrew 22 of those complaints, and the 23rd – involving Facebook’s alleged cooperation with the United States’s National Security Agency's PRISM program – was rejected. His appeal of that decision remains in the Irish courts.
The potential for conflicting decisions is one of several reasons Graf & Pitkowiz claims Schrems’s claims case should not be considered by the Austrian court. On behalf of Facebook, Nikolaus Pitkowitz reportedly argued to the court that the “lawsuit is inadmissible from a procedural viewpoint and that the [Vienna] court has no jurisdiction and that [the lawsuit's] content is unjustified.”
The judge has promised a written decision on the jurisdictional question before summer.