Facebook scored its first legal victory against the Europe v Facebook activist organization this week. The group, fronted by Austrian law student Max Schrems, filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook in August 2014 over the site’s collection and transfer of user data. 25,000 people signed up for the suit, each seeking €500 each in damages. However, the Vienna court where the case was filed refused this week to hear it. They claimed that they did not have jurisdiction in the case, and that Schrems could not pursue the case in Austria because he represented a group instead of acting as an individual.
“The court has taken a very strange approach, by basically arguing that anyone that is a vocal activist derives some sort of a benefit from it and is therefore is a business person,” Schrems said. “[Other] grounds [for] why there is jurisdiction in Vienna, is that the damage to my privacy occurred here — [this] was basically ignored. When reading the decision I wondered if the court just wanted this very complex and lengthy case off the table.”
However, the court did not rule on any “material facts,” including Facebook’s controversial data policies that started the case in the first place. That means Shrems and the group can continue to pursue the issue in a higher court. Even though Facebook expressed pleasure that the court had “roundly rejected” the activists’ claims, this legal battle remains far from over.