Max Schrems

That is a name that strikes fear into the hear of Facebook.  He is an Austrian law student and privacy activist (see here and here).

He sued Facebook saying that they violated European privacy laws and that the safe harbor that the EU gave US companies for protecting EU residents information is a sham and violates EU law.

He is behind the group which has filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook as well as filing other suits against Microsoft and Google.  He likely won’t get a Christmas card from them.  The currently have 25,000 members of the class and could be awarded 500 euros each if they win (500×25,000 = 12.5 million Euros.  That amount of money is pocket change to Zuckerberg, but it sets a precedent.

The interesting part, to me, is that after a bunch of wrangling, Facebook sent him a PDF with most of his information in it.  It contained, among other things:

  • His friends
  • His newsfeed
  • Every photo or page he EVER clicked on
  • All of the advertising he EVER viewed
  • Everyone he had EVER friended or defriended
  • Every event he had EVER been invited to and how he responded
  • Every Poke he EVER received
  • Who else EVER signed on from the same computer as him
  • Email addresses that he had NOT provided FB, but were likely culled from other user’s address books.
  • All of his past messages and chats, including ones with the notation deleted.

People has said that the Internet never forgets – this is kind of proof of that.

While this is not a big surprise for me, it doesn’t necessarily make me happy.  From Facebook’s perspective, who knows what we might need sometime – let’s save it.

The problem is that saving some of this may break European law and shipping to the U.S. where it is likely stored at the NSA (along with Facebook’s servers, I suppose), may break some EU laws.

You can watch the status of the suit at their web site under the UPDATES link




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