Student Can't File Lawsuit Against Facebook: Court Adviser At EU

Max Schrems can sue Facebook but only as a consumer

Mr Schrems' complaint has primarily been heard in Dublin so far.

Facebook has obtained a partial, preliminary victory in the privacy case brought against the company by Austrian Maximilian Schrems.

They represent volunteers who had signed up to be part of his effort to sue Facebook over alleged privacy rules violations - one of several tactics he has taken in his battle against the United States company. However, Facebook disputed the case on the grounds that it was not appropriate for the jurisdiction to hear the case.

The EU Court was asked to rule on the two questions by the Supreme Court in Austria handling Schrems case against Facebook Ireland for violations of privacy and personal data protection. His hope is to claim 500 euros ($576) in damages for each of them, or about $12.5 million euros.

Michal Bobek, top court's Advocate General of European Union (EU) said, "A consumer who is entitled to sue his foreign contact partner in his own place of domicile, can not invoke, at the same time as his own claims, claims on the same subject assigned by other consumers".

Schrems responded to Bobek in a statement, noting that because European Union laws allow citizens to move home countries any time they choose, their home court can change just as easily. The advocate-general's opinion is not binding, and the full court must still issue a final opinion in the case.

Facebook's European headquarters is in Ireland, bringing it within Irish legal jurisdiction.

The class action lawsuits are predominant in the US, but they are rare in European countries.

"The effect would be that thousands of courts in the whole European Union would have to deal with an identical, but local lawsuit against Facebook", he said.

Schrems has since taken a subsequent case in his home country of Austria after expressing frustration at the pace of progress in the Irish legal system.

Schrems concluded: "In this case we would be in a situation where citizens have rights on paper - but no realistic option to ever defend their rights in practice". "Today's opinion supports the decisions of two courts that Mr. Schrems" claims can not proceed as "class action' on behalf of other consumers in Austrian courts", the spokesperson said in a statement.

Five EU judges will consider Bobek's opinion and are expected to make a decision in early 2018 about whether the case can proceed.

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