Judge: Facebook lawsuit over facial recognition may proceed

Judge: Facebook lawsuit over facial recognition may proceed

Judge: Facebook lawsuit over facial recognition may proceed

US District Judge James Donato ruled in San Francisco federal court that a class action was the most efficient way to resolve the dispute over facial templates.

Facebook said the case has no merit.

The ruling on Monday by a United States federal judge in California comes as the social network is snared in a scandal over the mishandling of 87 million users' data ahead of the 2016 United States presidential election.

Not very long after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced Congress regarding Facebook's poor handling of users' data as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company has now been accused of illicitly obtaining users' biometric information through the use of facial recognition technology.

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Users from the state of IL filed the suit claiming the technology - which is not available in the United Kingdom - breaches state laws on biometric data privacy. Users sued in 2015 in a class-action lawsuit, which finally came into legal fruition earlier today, so to speak.

The three users have sued under an IL state law called the Biometric Information Privacy Act, which affords certain people protections over information such as fingerprints, retina scans, and facial recognition data. Specifically, Facebook has created, collected and stored over a billion "face templates" (or "face prints") - highly detailed geometric maps of the face - from over a billion individuals, millions of whom reside in the State of IL. The certification of a class of users is a key step in brining a class action.

The idea was that it would make it easier for users to tag their friends in photos, although it seems that not everyone necessarily appreciates the convenience that the feature offers. The Electronic Privacy Information Center has called on the FTC to investigate Facebook's facial recognition practices since 2011.

June 2011 was the date on which Facebook rolled out its "tag suggestions" feature.

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