Facebook's facial recognition tool faces class action suit over mishandling biometric data

Facebook fuels broad privacy debate by tracking non-users

Lawsuit alleges Facebook gathered unauthorized biometric data

Ruling in San Francisco, Judge James Donato said the claim meets class-action status, and allowed the class to include Facebook users in IL whose facial recognition algorithms were stored after June 7, 2011. 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".

The plaintiffs are three Illinois Facebook users who sued under a state law that says a private entity such as Facebook can't collect and store a person's biometric facial information without their written consent.

The lawsuit alleges that Facebook gathered biometric information without users' explicit consent.

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In response, a Facebook spokeswoman said: "We are reviewing the ruling".

"As more people become aware of the scope of Facebook's data collection and as consequences begin to attach to that data collection, whether economic or regulatory, Facebook will have to take a long look at its privacy practices and make changes consistent with user expectations and regulatory requirements", Shawn Williams, the plaintiffs' attorney, told Bloomberg. It's a hot-button issue, as sweeping new European Union privacy legislation requires Facebook and other tech companies to get explicit permission for using the technology. The feature which is not available to users in most countries, can be turned off in settings for users in the United States.

This isn't the only current lawsuit against Facebook coming out of IL. It's the latest privacy controversy for Facebook; last week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent two days answering questions on Capitol Hill over the Cambridge Analytica user-data scandal.

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What does the facial recognition do?

Facebook is facing a class action in the US over its "Tag Suggestions" feature, which uses facial recognition to suggest to US Facebook users which of their Facebook friends might be present in photos uploaded to the social network. "We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously".

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