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Facebook accused of Prism collaboration in new EU privacy case

A data privacy campaign aiming to bring a class action lawsuit against Facebook has gained 25,000 signatures.

Max Schrems of Vienna, claims that the way the social network monitors its users is in breach on EU law. Mr Schrems also alleges that the firm collaborated with the US surveillance scheme, Prism.

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The company has previously denied any knowledge of Prism before it was revealed in US government documents, but has admitted to complying with national security requests.

Any Facebook users residing outside the US and Canada are being urged to sign up to the campaign via an app or online.

The case target's Facebook's Irish subsidiary, which is responsible for all users outside of North America and argues that the firm broke European privacy laws by introducing external website tracking and big data analysis.

In particular, the campaign argues that the social network monitors members through Like buttons embedded in third-party websites and gains insights through data-crunching the billions of interaction its users have with the site.

Mr Schrems is demanding 500 euros (£396) in damages for each of the first 25,000 signed up to the case. The Austrian legal system does not allow for large-scale class actions, but Mr Schrems intends to share the money with the other participants after delivering a 20 per cent cut to a German company funding the case.

However, Mr Schrems has stated that money is not the main reason for the case, but rather it is to encourage foreign companies to respect European law,

"It is not an epic fight with Facebook but more of a general question of where we are going and if we respect our fundamental rights in Europe," he told the BBC.

Robert bond, one of the UK's leading data protection lawyers believes that the case could deliver a landmark ruling.

"The current climate of data protection enforcement in the EU in the courts and by the data protection regulators, coupled with an increasing awareness by consumers of their rights means that this case could well run its course in the Court in Vienna and achieve a result for Max Schrems and Facebook users," he said.

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"Of course it remains to be seen whether or not Facebook will try to settle as reputational damage may be worse than a financial penalty."