Thursday, 26 April, 2018

Facebook to face class-action suit on facial recognition

Ally Zacek | The DePaulia CloseAlly Zacek | The DePaulia
Cristina Norman | 17 April, 2018, 20:24

The class of people in question is made up of Facebook users "in IL for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after 7 June 2011", according to the court order.

Facebook must face a class action lawsuit over its use of facial recognition technology.

Facebook is once again under fire, but this week the company is taking flack for its facial recognition software and not a geopolitical data scandal. In a statement made to Reuters, Facebook was quoted as saying, "We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously". U.S. District Judge James Donato of the Northern District of California on Monday certified a class in a case brought against Facebook under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA-a law governing the collection and storage of biometric indicators like fingerprints, facial features and iris scans. The lawsuit is being filed over an IL state law called the Biometric Information Privacy Act.

A California judge on Monday gave the green light to a three-year-old case claiming the social network violated IL law.

Now, millions of Facebook users in the state of IL can seek up to $5,000 for each time the company's "Tag Suggestions" feature was used to mark them in a photo without their explicit consent. Facebook argued that the lawsuit should be pursued by individuals and not as a class-action as "damages could amount to billions of dollars", the company also argued that each user could be "aggrieved" differently and should be forced to prove that they were negatively affected by Facebook's collection of the data.

The ruling is another blow to Facebook which has been facing growing privacy concerns in recent weeks.

The legal move on Monday comes as Facebook has come under scrutiny for how it handles users data, particularly after revelations that consulting firm Cambridge Analytica harvested up to 87 million people's information, many without consent.

The lawsuit could clear the way for millions of the site's users to sue the company for using their image without permission.

Zuckerberg was questioned on Capitol Hill last week, though has demurred about whether the country needs federal regulations to protect privacy, which would likely include elements of Illinois' law.

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