CJEU: Hearing in Case C-498/16 Schrems on Wednesday 19th July 2017 (Facebook – data protection – privacy rights)

Source: CJEU

Between 2011 and 2013, Mr Schrems brought a number of complaints against Facebook Ireland before the Irish Data Protection Commissioner which led to a reference for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union in relation to the European Commission’s ‘Safe Harbour’ Decision (Case C-632/14).

Mr Schrems has now filed a class action against Facebook Ireland for breaches of Austrian, Irish and European privacy rules. He claims that certain clauses in the contracts entered into between Facebook Ireland Ltd, a subsidiary of the US company Facebook Inc., and Facebook users, are invalid on the basis of EU law governing consumer contracts.

Facebook Ireland argues that Mr Schrems cannot rely on the jurisdiction over consumer contracts because at the time he concluded his contract with Facebook Ireland he was using the social media site for commercial purposes. In addition, Mr Schrems cannot use the jurisdiction over consumer contracts for assigned claims on behalf of other individuals.

The Oberster Gerichtshof (Supreme Court of Justice, Austria) asks the Court of Justice whether a person loses the status of ‘consumer’ within the meaning of Regulation 44/2001 if, after a comparatively long use of a private Facebook account, he publishes books in connection with enforcement of his claims, delivers lectures, operates websites, collects donations and has had assigned to him the claims of numerous consumers on the assurance that he will forward to them any proceeds awarded afterwards.

In addition, in the event that Mr Schrems is still considered to be a ‘consumer’ for the purposes of the Regulation, the Austrian court has doubts as to whether it can hear the class action when some of the consumers involved may not be based in Austria or even within the EU.

Background Documents Case C-498/16


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