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Netherlands gives go-ahead for privacy litigation against FB

Tech giants have been facing the wrath of privacy and competitions watchdogs and rights organizations across the globe, and Facebook Inc., is no different. The Mark Zuckerburg-led firm, which has already had a lot on its plate, be it due to Russia’s increasing restrictions, or due to India’s new IT rules, has just received another blow. A court in Amsterdam has ruled that Netherlands can proceed with the privacy litigation against FB, effectively rejecting the company’s appeal against having to face a lawsuit filed by two not-for-profit groups.

privacy litigation against FB

Image Credits: Oberhauser Law

Data Collection by Facebook Illegal?

As per a report first made public by TechCrunch, the proceedings of the lawsuit are slated to go underway in October. For the unversed, Data Privacy Foundation (DPS), a non-profit group based in Amsterdam, has joined hands with Consumentenbond, another non-profit dealing with consumer protection, to file a case against the US firm. The suit in question drags Facebook to court on grounds of collecting large amounts of data, despite not having any legal basis for the same.

The privacy litigation against FB has reportedly been filed on behalf of Dutch users, and seeks to hold the social media biggie accountable for violating the privacy rights of Netherlands citizens. Demands include compensation to affected individuals, and a complete removal of Facebook’s questionable data collection practices.

The lawsuit has been filed as per the laws of the European Union, which grants entities and organizations the ability to group a number of redressal pleas together. This in turn, allows groups to represent the case on behalf of citizens. This seems increasingly important seeing how data protection regulatory agencies across the EU take widely different approaches when it comes to the enforcement of data protection laws and regulations.

No Jurisdiction Over Citizen’s Data Privacy

Facebook had denied abusing its power in its plea, and had held on tight to its claims of giving utmost importance to user privacy, while granting them control over use of their own data. However, the Dutch court in Amsterdam did not heed its calls, wherein it had sought to block the litigation on procedural grounds, claiming that the DPS “does not fit the criteria” for representing privacy claims made by others, in court.

The range of Amsterdam’s authority on the of the privacy litigation against FB has also been questioned by the company itself, which argues that its European branches fall under the Irish jurisdiction, and so, should follow directions from Irish courts.

First Step Down, What Next?

Consumentbond’s director Sandra Molenaar has hailed the ruling as a “big boost for the more than 10 million victims”. One may note how Facebook has put out all its cards in hopes of preventing the suit, but all has been in vain. Dick Bouma, Chairman at DPS, has also said that the move is a “nice and important first step”.

The two organizations are together calling for people to register and become a part of the movement, claiming that so far, over 185,000 people have already signed themselves up. The groups argue that Facebook’s apparently free service actually comes at a hefty price, that of one’s data.




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