Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Technology | By Christopher Mann

Judge: Class-action lawsuit against Facebook for using facial recognition may proceed

Judge: Class-action lawsuit against Facebook for using facial recognition may proceed

June 2011 was the date on which Facebook rolled out its "tag suggestions" feature. Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act made it illegal to collect and store faceprints without obtaining informed written consent.

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.

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A federal judge in California has ruled that Facebook can be sued in a class-action lawsuit brought by users in IL who say the social network improperly used facial recognition technology on their uploaded photographs. "This unwanted, unnecessary, and unsafe identification of individuals undermines user privacy, ignores the explicit preferences of Facebook users, and is contrary to law in several state and many parts of the world", the complaint states.

The company adds that the data it collects isn't covered by IL law, which explicitly prevents the collection of biometric data such as facial geometry, fingerprints and "voice prints".

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Monday's ruling will likely impact the Silicon Valley giant, which has already lost billions of dollars in wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where some 87 million Facebook users had their personal data "mishandled" and shared with a third party. Not everyone who's had their photos uploaded on the website can be part of the complaint, but the class-action could still have millions of people in the plaintiff's camp.

The study found 17% said they deleted the Facebook app from their phones, 11% said they deleted it from other devices, and another 9% said they deleted their accounts completely due to concerns regarding privacy.

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"Facebook should suspend further deployment of facial recognition pending the outcome of the FTC investigation", EPIC President Marc Rotenberg said. While you are in your general settings, you can even download a copy of what data Facebook has collected. 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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