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25, 000-Plaintiff Class Action Suit against Facebook Kicked Up to Higher Jurisdiction

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A class action suit brought by Austrian student Max Schrems against Facebook, over privacy issues, was dismissed by an Austrian court.

The suit, which had already gained 25, 000 participants, was rejected by the commercial court of Vienna, because the judge believed the suit belonged in Vienna’s regional court.

The court’s spokesman said “it is a claim that doesn’t belong at the commercial court but belongs at the regional court for civil cases, ” because it deals with privacy laws that are the regional court jurisdiction.

The regional court will now determine if it does has jurisdiction and will make a decision on the matter as soon as possible.

Schrems told PCWorld that the ruling was not “a big deal” to him and that “to us it doesn’t really matter what court we end up in.”

The suit claims that Facebook has violated EU privacy laws by using “big data” systems that spy on its users, as well as by its non-compliance with data access requests. In addition, there’s Facebook’s privacy policy and its alleged participation in the Prism data collection program run by the U.S. National Security Agency.

The 25, 000 limit on plaintiffs was set by the group itself, but more people will eventually be added to the list. More than 20, 000 people are waiting to be included at a later time. The organizers say that more than 7, 000 people are being added to the list each day.

Under Austrian law, a class action suit must be brought by one person on behalf of a group of people. Schrems is seeking $670 in damages per complainant.

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