On the invitation of Greiter Pegger Kofler & Partners, on October 5th, 2017 Max Schrems spoke about his experiences with Facebook & Co, Silicon Valley, California.
It is the year 2005. An Austrian law student is working on a paper on data protection during a semester in the USA. He asks Facebook to send him the data they have on him and is amazed to receive around 1,200 A4 pages of data, including informaton he had long since deleted.
The law student was Max Schrems, who is now, no doubt, Austria’s most well known privacy activist.
Greiter Pegger Kofler & Partners asked Max Schrems to report on his fight for data protection. In the full Barock Hall of the Grand Hotel Europa, Max Schrems explained how our data is collected by internet giants and why he is working to promote complicance with privacy regulations.
By means of action before the European Court of Justice against Facebook’s Irish subsidiary, in 2015 Max Schrems managed to bring the transnational Safe Harbour Principles between the EU and the USA to fall. Fundamantal rights to privacy and data protection were violated by the data being transfered to the USA, the court decision said. When it was revealed that the US National Security Agency systematically accessed the servers of US corporations such as Facebook and Google, Max Schrems initated further proceedings against Facebook Ireland and other giants. The decision by the European Court of Justice in the action against Facebook Ireland is exptected in early 2018. Presently a class action before Viennese courts against Facebook Ireland joined by 25,000 people is pending. For more information see http://europe-v-facebook.org/.
“The right to data protection is a European fundamental right, but it is not respected by a lot of the big IT companies. Mass surveillance is not compatible with the requirements for an adequate level of security and violates our fundamental rights” states Schrems. “What we see on the screen when we’re on the internet and what is actually going on in the background are two completely different worlds. Facebook even saves data on people that have deleted their profiles or have never even created one”.
Max Schrems concluding words: “Yes, I do use Facebook myself. I haven’t been blocked. I am for technology. But, on the other hand, we do have to make sure that large corporations also comply with data protection provisions. I hope that one day an adequate level of security in data protection will be normal. That’s what I am going to keep on working towards.”
An interesting and lively discussion followed, with a large number of questions and comments from the public.
For more information on data protection see: Datenschutz – ein Damoklesschwert für Unternehmen?