Facebook class action lawsuit over facial recognition OK'd by judge
17 April, 2018, 20:26
As it turns out, in San Francisco federal court today, U.S. District Judge James Donato certified a class action suit against Facebook.
Facebook had admitted that almost 5.62 lakh people in India were "potentially affected" by the incident. The company issued a statement through a spokesman saying that the case had no merit, and would fight it 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". Its facial recognition tool scans your photos and suggests you tag friends.
According to Donato's decision, the class action will consist of users in the state "for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011".
Facebook is facing a class-action lawsuit in the United States over claims that it unlawfully applied facial recognition technology to users' images without their explicit consent. 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. This argument hinges on an IL law called the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which states a private entity can't store an individual's biometric information without written consent, nor profit from the data.
The technology was suspended for users in Europe in 2012 over privacy fears.
Also on Monday, Facebook confirmed that it collected information from people beyond their social network use. Facebook argued that the lawsuit should be pursued by individuals and not as a class-action as "damages could amount to billions of dollars", the company also argued that each user could be "aggrieved" differently and should be forced to prove that they were negatively affected by Facebook's collection of the data.
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.
Testifying before the US Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said his organisation was committed to ensure integrity of elections across the world, including India.
As the scandal unfolded, the Electronic Privacy Information Center said it would challenge Facebook's use of facial recognition with the Federal Trade Commission.
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