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The Privacy Collective sues Oracle and Salesforce

Data millions of Dutch citizens unlawfully collected and processed; The Privacy Collective sues Oracle and Salesforce

The Privacy Collective - a foundation that acts against violation of privacy rights - is today starting a lawsuit against Oracle and Salesforce. Among other things, the foundation accuses the technology groups of unlawfully collecting and processing the data of millions of Dutch internet users. It has opted for a class action, claiming damages for a large group of people. It is the first time this legal remedy has been used in the Netherlands for a breach of the General Data Protection Regulation (AVG).

Lawyer Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm, assisting The Privacy Collective:
"This case involves one of the largest cases of unlawful processing of personal data in the history of the internet. Virtually all Dutch people who read or view information online are structurally affected by the practices of Oracle and Salesforce, which only serve a commercial purpose."

Online shadow profile

Oracle and Salesforce collect data from website visitors at any time and on a large scale. By combining it with additional information, they create a personal profile of each individual internet user. The millions of profiles are used, among other things, to serve personalised online ads and unlawfully shared with numerous commercial parties, including ad-tech companies. The tech giants collect their information partly with specially developed cookies.

Alberdingk Thijm: "Most people do not know they have such an online 'shadow profile'. They don't know what it looks like and certainly haven't given legitimate consent to it." To collect and share the personal data, Oracle and Salesforce are supposed to seek consent under the AVG. "These parties are acting in violation of internet users' right to privacy. The right to protection of personal data and the right to privacy are recognised as fundamental rights.", said Alberdingk Thijm.

Class action

Since January this year, the possibility has also existed in the Netherlands in a class action claim damages. "Claiming damages in a class action is an important enforcement tool in the AVG", says Joris van Hoboken, professor of information law and board member of The Privacy Collective. "It gives teeth to the law." The foundation is asking internet users to register through its website to show their support. Based on the number of people affected, the total amount of damages could reach more than €10 billion.

Several organisations are supporting The Privacy Collective's action, including Privacy First, Bits of Freedom, Qiy Foundation and Freedom Internet. The class action is fully funded by Innsworth, a litigation financier. As a result, the individuals for whom The Privacy Collective is acting do not incur any costs themselves. This organisation is funding a similar class action, which is currently being prepared.

Source: press release The Privacy Collective, 14 August 2020.

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