Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Finance | By Gustavo Carr

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

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

A federal judge in California ruled Monday that a suit against the Silicon Valley giant over its facial recognition tools could proceed as a class action.

On its help pages, Facebook says the face templates are made from information about the similarities in every photo the user has been tagged in. A spokeswomen for the firm sent out an email that read, "We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously". The company also tried and failed to claim that the data it collects isn't covered by BIPA, which restricts the collection of fingerprints, voice prints, and "hand or face geometry".

Nimesh Patel started his suit against Facebook back in 2015 for violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which protected citizens data by requiring informed consent to gather biometric information, including about their faces. Plaintiffs claim that Facebook violated BIPA by collecting and storing IL users' biometric data without prior notice or consent through its "Tag Suggestions" tool-a feature launched in 2011 that prompts users to identify friends in pictures uploaded to the social media site. Facebook successfully requested that the case be moved from IL to San Francisco and its defense appears to be that the IL law is all about the use of biometric data such as fingerprints, retina and iris scans, voice prints, and scans of peoples' hands and faces.

That is the date when Facebook launched "Tag Suggestions", a feature that suggests people to tag after a Facebook user uploads a photo.

Facebook could owe billions of dollars for using facial recognition after a judge approved a pending lawsuit against the social network.

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Facing global heat over the dissemination of fake news, social networking giant Facebook has partnered fact-check portal Boom for a pilot in Karnataka, which goes to polls in May.

The technology was suspended for users in Europe in 2012 over privacy fears.

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".

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

"It really puts Facebook's business model into question, and people might feel differently about what they put online if they feel manipulated by the platform", said Jennifer Krueckeberg, lead researcher at privacy advocacy group Big Brother Watch.

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