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EU Court Adviser Says Consumer Groups Could Sue Facebook

EU Court Adviser Says Consumer Groups Could Sue Facebook
In a German online gaming case that might pave the way for similar action throughout the EU, an advisor to Europe's highest court suggested on Thursday that Facebook could be sued by consumer organisations for privacy infringement.
The complaint dates back to 2012, and it is one of numerous privacy and antitrust issues that Facebook is dealing with in Europe, where authorities have passed legislation aimed at limiting the influence of so-called tech giants and increasing transparency.
"Member states may allow consumer protection associations to bring representative actions against infringements of the protection of personal data," Richard de la Tour, advocate general at the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), said in an opinion.
He went on to say that such lawsuits must be based on infringements of rights arising directly from GDPR, the landmark EU privacy legislation passed three years ago.
"We'll analyse the Advocate General's opinion. Legal clarity on scope and process of GDPR is important and we’re glad the Court of Justice of the European Union is considering the questions raised in this case.” said a spokesperson Meta Platforms Inc.
Any request to gather personal data must be accompanied by unambiguous and informed permission, according to GDPR.
Consumer organisations that defend consumers' collective interests, according to De la Tour, are particularly well adapted to the GDPR's goal of ensuring a high degree of personal data protection.
After the Federation of German Consumer Organizations launched a complaint alleging that Facebook had allowed operators of online games to inappropriately gather the personal data of players, the social network found itself in hot water.
In 2012, the games became available on Facebook's App Center. Users automatically consented to reveal personal information, such as email addresses, by playing the games. They'd get a notice at the end of the game suggesting the app may share their status, images, and other information.
After a lower court in Germany found in favour of the German federation, Facebook filed an appeal with a higher court, which then sought help from the CJEU.
Facebook's privacy settings have already been updated.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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