The ASC request came out on 12 September. In principle, Austrian law allows people to assign their claims to one individual who can then file a suit on their behalf. European regulation on class action is different from American law, and the situation is expected to be clarified by the ECJ.
Schrems wants to represent thousands of people in the claim against Facebook. According to his attorney, W. Proksch, the core question now is whether consumers have to file thousands of individual complaints before thousands of judges and courts in different countries, or if such issues can be dealt with in a joint procedure.
In 2014, Schrems accused Facebook of allegedly using invalid privacy policies, illegal processing, sharing of personal data and participation in the US mass surveillance scandal (the PRISM programme). Schrems invited Facebook users to join his class action in Austria and 25,000 people signed up, claiming 500 euros in damages each.
After long legal proceedings, the case reached the ASC - despite Facebook’s efforts to dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds. Simply put, Schrems is seeking the right to represent the 25,000 people in the class action claim, while Facebook believes that such a claim should be brought into a different court.
Two questions for the ECJ
For the Schrems case, the ECJ will be focusing on two points related to the interpretation of EU law.
Firstly, Schrems engaged in a public fight, raised donations and participated in debates – can he still be considered a consumer in terms of EU law?
Secondly, if a consumer can file an assigned claim at his home court, can the class action be joined by all users worldwide, or should it be confined to European users or users in some countries?