PRIVACY ACTIVIST Max Schrems is setting up a non-profit organisation to help citizens take on the tech giants in court.
Schrems, whose complaint against Facebook's practices of transferring European citizens' personal data to the US led to the downfall of the Safe Harbour agreement, is seeking to take advantage of the strengthened enforcement mechanisms that are written into the EU GDPR data protection legislation, which allows non-profit organisations to defend individual's privacy rights in the courts.
The new organisation is called NOYB (none of your business) and describes itself as a 'European privacy enforcement organisation that enforces your rights in a systematic and effective way'.
While it is the job of the Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) such as the UK's Information Commissioners Office to enforce privacy rights, in practice the website says "there are legal, political and factual reasons (e.g. limited resources) that limit the desire and ability of DPAs to do their job".
The aim of NOYB is to bridge that gap by bringing legal expertise to bear on taking privacy cases to court, proceeding with targeted litigation and also using PR and media initiatives to raise awareness of cases without necessarily taking them through the legal process.
The board of directors of NOYB includes Schrems himself, lawyer Christof Tschohl and Petra Leupold, managing director of the research academy of the Austrian Consumer Protection Association. Members include politicians, experts from the European Commission, lawyers and academics. All positions are voluntary.
Schrems has launched a crowdfunding initiative with the aim of raising €500,000. He hopes to launch NOYB by next year when the GDPR becomes law.
The organisation is working on strategy with other privacy-oriented organisations, including privacy-oriented search engine StartPage.
"EU privacy laws need to be enforced. NOYB will be able to do this. They have a very impressive track record and seem ideally positioned to fight for our digital rights. StartPage.com fully supports NOYB. They will be a privacy force to reckon with," said CEO Robert Beens. µ
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