Europe Declares War on Facebook

TO GO WITH Philippines-Internet-rights-law,lead-FOCUS by Cecil Morella
(FILES) In a file picture taken on May 15, 2012, a lo
TO GO WITH Philippines-Internet-rights-law,lead-FOCUS by Cecil Morella (FILES) In a file picture taken on May 15, 2012, a logo of social networking facebook is displayed on a laptop screen inside a restaurant in Manila. A new cybercrime law in the Philippines that could see people sentenced to 12 years in jail for posting defamatory comments on Facebook or Twitter is generating outrage among netizens and rights groups. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE/FILES (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/GettyImages)

Throughout history, Europe has shown an inclination to declare war on itself. Now in the 21st Century, Europe has found a new enemy to rally against: Facebook.

Recently, Europe brought the gauntlet down on Google over the right to be forgotten. Now, with the blood not even dry from that battle and the terms of surrender still in flux, Europe has turned its attention to the king of privacy sinners.

Right on the heels of JUST's "99 Days of Facebook Freedom" campaign in Europe, on August 1st, Austrian law student Max Schrems filed a class-action lawsuit against Facebook claiming the company's privacy policy violates EU law. That in and of itself would hardly merit comparison to the time Austria kicked off World War I. But here's where the story gets interesting. Rather than go it alone as the David to Facebook's Goliath, Schrems opened the floodgates by inviting any user outside the U.S. and Canada to join. That means upwards of 1 billion users to those counting at home. If you're reading this outside of North America, you can sign up via a form on

Thousands of participants have joined the suit, with the goal being to retrieve €500 (approximately $670) in damages on behalf of every backer.

Does such a case have any teeth? To those who shrug and laugh this off as the shenanigans of a bored law student, consider the fact that Shrems was the first European to request Facebook disclose any information the social network had on him. That request led to his receiving more than 1,000 pages of content. And In 2012, he also made Facebook retire its photo-tagging suggestion feature after successfully arguing that it violated people's privacy. Schrems was also featured in the 2013 award-winning documentary film by Cullen Hoback; Terms and Conditions May Apply.

So what are we to make of all of this here in the USA? According to a Harris Interactive study just released, almost every American (99%) cares about their privacy online. Furthermore 71% declare they care deeply about privacy. Whereas polls show that Americans feel very similar to their European brethren, the Europeans have taken to action.

Let's face it. History shows us that when it comes to war, Europeans tend to be all in for protecting rights and privileges. Only now, instead of countries, they are going after corporations. The suit and the general European attitude has less to do with money and much more to do with human decency. Yes, there is a monetary element to this new suit, but that's more to make Facebook take notice of its privacy violations and act more responsibly in measurable ways than to profit.

What will become of this suit? I suppose it could be dismissed but based on Schrems track record, I doubt it. And if people continue to join the suit, then this case will become less a thorn in the side for Facebook and more the privacy shot heard round the world.

This is why there are courageous companies rising, such as Sgrouples, MeWe, and DuckDuckGo. Law-abiding citizens right to privacy cannot be a luxury in any shape or form, nor can it be based on what continent one happens to live on. It has to be maintained as a natural right, plain and simple. It makes us who we are and gives us the freedom of thought and expression. It's not an entitlement issue nor is it another oppressive cog in our class struggle.

Privacy? Yes. Subject to which continent you live on or a luxury item? No, it's a natural born right for all of us. More than a war, this is a revolution!