Facebook class action looms over facial recognition software

Facebook fuels broad privacy debate by tracking non-users

Facebook could have to pay 'billions' in damages in class action lawsuit over facial recognition

A California judge has ruled that a class-action lawsuit against Facebook's use of facial-recognition technology can go ahead - signaling further legal woes for the social network. The lawsuit has three plaintiffs, but a class-action status could potentially include millions of IL users.

Facebook violated an IL state law by improperly using their photo-scanning and facial recognition technologies and storing biometric data without their users' consent, a federal judge in California ruled on Monday, after reviewing a 2015 claim made against Facebook by three IL plaintiffs. Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act made it illegal to collect and store faceprints without obtaining informed written consent. It's a hot-button issue, as sweeping new European Union privacy legislation requires Facebook and other tech companies to get explicit permission for using the technology.

Facebook says that it is reviewing Monday's ruling that certifies the class action.

Facebook's facial recognition technology, which it uses to recognise users in photos and identify impersonators, has not been available in the European Union since 2012 after being accused of violating privacy laws for not obtaining users' consent.

Users from the state of IL filed the suit claiming the technology - which is not available in the United Kingdom - breaches state laws on biometric data privacy.


If the lawsuit goes ahead, every member of the IL group could be entitled to compensation, potentially costing Facebook billions of dollars. It's the latest privacy controversy for Facebook; last week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent two days answering questions on Capitol Hill over the Cambridge Analytica user-data scandal.

Folks can, of course, turn off the service via Facebook's privacy settings.

This is not the first time Facebook has been under fire for their facial recognition technology.

This template is then used to suggest tags for other images if it recognises the faces in them.

Following a successful test in December 2010, the function rolled out worldwide the next summer, making it easier for users to tag Facebook friends in photos. A spokeswomen for the firm sent out an email that read, "We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously".

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