Facebook charged over use of facial recognition


US District Judge James Donato ruled that Facebook can be sued by three IL users who claim the firm gathered biometric data through facial recognition without their explicit consent.

Facebook will have to face a class action lawsuit alleging it illegally violated users' privacy by using a facial recognition process on photos without explicit consent.

The organizations are calling on the FTC to reopen a 2009 investigation of Facebook due to recent revelations regarding Cambridge Analytica accessing millions of Facebook users private data. Facebook, however, "continue [s] to believe the case has no merit and" vows to "defend [itself] vigorously". The lawsuit is being filed over an IL state law called the Biometric Information Privacy Act. Users sued in 2015 in a class-action lawsuit, which finally came into legal fruition earlier today, so to speak. The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) requires consent before companies can collect biometric data.

Patel particularly took aim at the "tag suggestion" feature launched in 2011, where Facebook, using data about the faces in a photo, suggests friends or others that should be tagged.

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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 company has altered the controversial feature in the time since it was first rolled out to users back in 2011 by adding a more direct notification alerting users to the facial recognition features. The certification of a class of users is a key step in brining a class action.

What does the facial recognition do? The law also made it illegal for companies to sell, lease, or otherwise profit from a customer's biometric information.

In December 2017 Facebook announced that users would be notified if a picture of them was uploaded by someone else, even if they hadn't been tagged in it.