Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Facebook to face class action lawsuit over its facial recognition technology

Facebook to face class action lawsuit over its facial recognition technology

Federal judge James Donato, based in San Francisco, ruled Monday that a class action lawsuit would be the best way to deal with the issue, though participants are limited to those who lived in IL and were the subjects of a Facebook "face template".

The ruling adds to the privacy woes mounting against Facebook over recent weeks, following disclosures that the personal information of millions of users was harvested by political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook created a template that automatically tags people when a photo is uploaded to the site.

In a successful class action suit, any person in that group could be entitled to compensation. "While not trivial, BIPA's statutory damages are not enough to incentivize individual plaintiffs given the high costs of pursuing discovery on Facebook's software and code base and Facebook's willingness to litigate the case.Facebook seems to believe that a class action is not superior because statutory damages could amount to billions of dollars", Donato wrote.

What does the facial recognition do?

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The lawsuit alleges that Facebook gathered biometric information without users' explicit consent.

The lawsuit was originally filed in mid-2015 but has been repeatedly kicked down the road with Facebook attempting to have the case dismissed.

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.

The feature is not available to users in most countries, including the United Kingdom - and can be turned off in settings for US users.

Facebook is actively collecting, storing, and using - without providing notice, obtaining informed written consent or publishing data retention policies - the biometrics of its users and unwitting non-users ... However, for the moment, users should be aware that their words and face are owned by Facebook and whoever else they decide to share the data with.

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