Brussels (Brussels Morning) An adviser for the EU’s top court issued an opinion on Thursday that could enable consumer groups within the EU to sue Facebook for privacy violations, in a latest escalation of company’s legal troubles within the Union.
Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) advocate-general Richard de la Tour wrote in his legal opinion that “member states may allow consumer protection associations to bring representative actions against infringements of the protection of personal data.”
According to de la Tour’s paper, such actions must be based on infringement of rights derived directly from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a Union-wide set of individual privacy and personal data rules adopted three years ago.
Facebook’s legal woes in this particular case first began in Germany some years ago, as the Federation of German Consumer Organisations filed a lawsuit at a German lower instance court, accusing the social network that it had allowed operators of online games to collect the personal data of gamers.
The data was collected through games offered on Facebook’s App Center in 2012. Playing the games meant Facebook’s users automatically gave permission to share their personal data with the game’s providers, including their email addresses. After finishing their game, they would receive a message informing them that the app could post their status, photos and other information on their behalf.
The German Federation won the lower-instance case, with Facebook ultimately appealing to a higher court, which sought advice from the CJEU on the matter.
Commenting on de la Tour’s opinion, a spokesperson for Meta, Facebook’s recently rebranded parent company, promised the firm would analyse the advocate-general’s paper. “ 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,” the spokesperson said.