Facebook privacy lawsuit over facial recognition leads to $ 650 million settlement


Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.

James Martin / CNET

A judge approved what he calls one of the largest settlements in a privacy lawsuit, and approved on Friday that Facebook paid $ 650 million to users who alleged the company created and stored scans of their faces without permission.

The class action lawsuit, filed in Illinois in 2015, involved Facebook’s use of facial recognition technology in its photo tagging feature. With this feature, users can tag friends in photos uploaded to Facebook, creating links to friends’ profiles.

The site’s Tag Suggestions program generated automatic suggestions by using scans of previously uploaded images to identify people in newly uploaded shots. The lawsuit alleged that the scans were created without the user’s consent and were violated. Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which regulates facial recognition, fingerprints and other biometric technologies in the state.

Biometrics It is one of the two main battlefields, along with geolocation, that will define our privacy rights for the next generation, “said attorney Jay Edelson, who filed the lawsuit, in January 2020. At that time, Facebook had proposed a $ 550 million deal. But the following July, the judge in the case, US District Judge James Donato, said that number was not high enough.

The final settlement “will put at least $ 345 in the hands of all members of the class interested in being compensated,” Donato said in his order Friday approving the settlement. “Either way, the $ 650 million deal … is a historic result,” he said. “It is one of the largest settlements in history for a violation of privacy.”

Facebook said in a statement Saturday that it is “pleased to have reached an agreement so that we can overcome this matter, which is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders.”

The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act has affected other companies as well. Sony’s robot dog, Aibo, has a camera on its nose and facial recognition technology, so it can identify the people around it and react accordingly. Due, Sony does not sell Aibo in Illinois. And last year, two kids in the state sued Google for allegedly collecting facial scans from millions of students through its classroom software tools.

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