Facebook must face class action over face-tagging in photos: jude

Facebook fuels broad privacy debate by tracking non-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.

The lawsuit, filed by Illinois residents Nimesh Patel, Adam Pezen, and Carlo Licata, alleges that Facebook's face recognition tagging tool - a feature that suggests people to tag after a user uploads a photo - is in violation of Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act.

Beyond saying that Facebook gave users no notice, the suit also charges that Facebook did not give those on its platform any information about how long the data would be held, also required by the BIPA. The lawsuit says this breaches IL state law.

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Facebook told Reuters that it "continue [s] to believe the case has no merit and will defend [itself] vigorously". Judge Donato put the extent of the damages into perspective, "Facebook seems to believe statutory damages could amount to billions of dollars".

But, unlike the Cambridge Analytica shitshow, this isn't a question of confidentiality; District Judge James Donato ruled in San Francisco federal court that a class action is the most efficient way to resolve this dispute. Now, the same judge who denied the tech giant's 2016 motion to dismiss has given the go-ahead to proceed with a class action lawsuit. Facebook is creating and storing "face templates" based on facial characteristics found in photos.

Last week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the US Congress over his company's handling of user data.

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What does the facial recognition do?

Facebook tried to dismiss this lawsuit as well, arguing that users who sued "know nearly nothing" about the platform's facial recognition tech.

"If you've never been tagged in a photo on Facebook or have untagged yourself in all photos of you on Facebook, then we do not have this summary information for you", the company says. It is now unavailable in the United Kingdom, but has been a feature in the USA since 2011.

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Due to privacy regulations, this feature would not be available in Europe or Canada, the firm said at the time.

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