Max Schrems aims to fight GDPR violations through crowdfunded privacy organization

Lawyer and activist Max Schrems gave a keynote on how he famously brought down Safe Harbor at the inaugural Nordic Privacy Arena last year. Now he’s crowdfunding an organization help individuals fight violations of the GDPR.

NOYB, or None of Your Business, will argue cases in court and is approved to lodge complaints under article 80. Thus, the organization will be able to represent collectives as well as individuals. Smartphone operating systems and popular smartphone apps are mentioned as potential first projects.

How will you decide what cases to take on?

– We are focusing on business, not government surveillance. Right now the aim is to look at gross violations of the very basics of GDPR and on cases that are close to the daily life of people, says Schrems.

NOYB lists, among others, MEP Jan-Philip Albrecht, law professor Herwig Hofmann, EPIC and the Norwegian Consumer Council as experts and partners. So far the crowdfunding campaign has reached 89,848 of the targeted 250 000 Euro needed to get the organization off the ground.

Who are the big funders so far? Will you meet the target?

– So far it’s the City of Vienna (€25k) and StartPage (€20k). We’ll see if we will make in the end – that’s the kick of a kickstarter.

 How has the initiative been received so far?

– The feedback is very positive. Noyb fills an obvious gap in the digital world. We are also very happy about the experts we could find so far. The other question is, how far we can motivate people to not just “like” us on Facebook, but to also support us financially.

You state that Europe lacks effective enforcement – what needs be done, in your opinion? More resources to DPA:s, more education?

– DPAs are one factor, but will never be able to do everything and are bound by legal constraints, politics and a budget, says Schrems.

– I think education is very important, but these issues are so complex, that the idea of a society in which every person is fully aware of all data processing that goes on around him/her and makes informed decisions is rather unlikely. We’ll need to have experts and clear laws that protect the individual – who has 100 other problems in life too.

 What are the main privacy threats we face today in the EU?

– There are so many, I would not know how to prioritize. One big issue is surely mono-/duopolies that are forming (e.g. Apple and Google for Smartphones) that have a huge dominance and reinforce this dominance through data. People have no realistic options to “escape” anymore.


Fredrik Svärd
Secretary-General, DPForum 

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