Facebook Facial Recognition Class-Action Lawsuit Could Cost Them 'Billions'

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A federal judge on Monday said Facebook must face a potentially multi-billion dollar class-action lawsuit from a group of IL users who say the company violated a state law that restricts facial recognition software. But despite Facebook's success in getting the case moved from IL to San Francisco, the judge ruled that "plaintiffs' claims are sufficiently cohesive to allow for a fair and efficient resolution on a class basis". "This means that in practice Facebook won't just be doing using facial recognition for Facebook users who have consented - it will likely be doing it for users who have explicitly said no as well as for people who appear in photos but don't even have Facebook accounts".

Three Illinois Facebook users are arguing that Facebook has broken the state's Biometric Information Privacy Act, NPR reported.

A Facebook spokesperson says that the company is working to make sure that its products and services comply with GDPR.

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 feature which is not available to users in most countries, can be turned off in settings for users in the United States.

Be careful when uploading images to social media experts warn
Be careful when uploading images to social media experts warn

In a message, Cobbe told Business Insider: "By framing the request for consent to facial recogntion as being about the user experience, about the user's security, and about making Facebook more accessible for visually impaired people, rather than what it's actually about - which is Facebook's all-encompassing surveillance machine in which privacy is not an option - they're going about getting consent in a fundamentally dishonest and manipulative way".

Facebook has been under intense scrutiny over fake news being delivered through the platform and the allegations that data analytics and political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica mined the data of 80 million users without consent.

This is not the first time Facebook has been under fire for their facial recognition technology.

Facebook issued a statement saying it continued to believe that the lawsuit has no merit. 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. On Facebook's help pages, the company says the face templates are made from information about the similarities in every photo the user has been tagged in.

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