Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during his keynote address at Facebook F8 in San FranciscoReuters

Social networking giant Facebook is being sued in Austria for the alleged violation of European privacy laws by tracking personal data and involving in the US National Security Agency's PRISM surveillance programme.

Max Schrems, an Austrian law graduate, is spearheading the class action suit with the support of about 25,000 Facebook users, based in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Australia. The lawsuit is set to begin on 9 April in Vienna.

Schrems accused the social network of taking a "Wild West" approach to data protection.

"Basically we are asking Facebook to stop mass surveillance, to (have) a proper privacy policy that people can understand, but also to stop collecting data of people that are not even Facebook users," he told AFP in an interview.

"There is a wide number of issues in the lawsuit and we hope to kind of win all of them and to get a landmark case against US data-gathering companies."

The case has been brought against Facebook's European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, which registers all accounts outside the US and Canada, representing about 80% of Facebook's 1.35 billion users. The class action suit is seeking a compensation claim of about €500 (£362, $539) per person.

Schrems has been campaigning against Facebook's breach of European privacy laws and has filed several complaints against the company in Ireland, along with the class action.

The case was referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) after the Irish authorities refused to open a probe into the alleged violations. The ECJ is expected to reach a decision on the lawsuit in 2016. The outcome from the suit could have far-reaching implications for American tech companies operating in Europe.

Facebook is yet to provide a response on the case.