Austrian law student Max Schrems, founder of the ‘Europe versus Facebook’ group, was awarded an OII Internet and Society award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to debates about personal privacy in a context where ordinary Internet users increasingly struggle to understand which companies, authorities and states have access to their digital data.
Max said: “I am very honoured to receive this award, also on behalf of the others working on this project. I also hope that it helps to highlight the problem of enforcement of a fundamental right that will shape our future”.
After asking Facebook for all the personal data it stored relating to his account, Max received a 1200 page long PDF document on a CD, containing data that he had already deleted. Max started wondering why Facebook had data about him that by European law it shouldn’t have, and what could be done about it. He went on to launch the online campaign ‘Europe vs. Facebook’, aimed at forcing the social media site to abide by European data privacy laws. Since Edward Snowden’s revelations, Schrem’s campaign has also turned its attention to PRISM and the co-operation of Internet giants such as Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo in handing over citizen data to the NSA.
OII Director, Professor Helen Margetts said: “Max has made a tremendous contribution to public debates about how to manage privacy in an age of extensive state surveillance and corporate use of personal data.”
The award was presented on 8 November 2013 in Oxford, at an awards dinner.