Facebook hit with lawsuit over facial recognition technology

JD Lasica  Flickr

JD Lasica Flickr

U.S. District Judge James Donato in San Francisco made the ruling after Facebook requested the case be heard on the company's home turf. 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. Users sued in 2015 in a class-action lawsuit, which finally came into legal fruition earlier today, so to speak.

Judge Donato didn't agree with Facebook's argument that the law doesn't apply to it, because its servers aren't located in the state.

The outcome of the case hinges on a law in IL called the Biometric Information Privacy Act that prevents private entities from storing a person's biometrics information without their explicit consent, says Alphr.

In a successful class action suit, any person in that group could be entitled to compensation.

The class consists of users in IL, for whom the site "created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011"-the date Facebook launched "Tag Suggestions".

Facebook's facial recognition technology, which it uses to recognise users in photos and identify impersonators, has not been available in the European Union since 2012 after being accused of violating privacy laws for not obtaining users' consent.

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Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, warned that if this facial recognition database had been shared with the USA government, it could pose a significant threat to free speech.

Launched in 2014, "Bumble" initially allowed Facebook-based information to speed up and simplify the process of registration and logging in of new users. It's not alone - Google is facing a similar class action in Chicago centred on its Google Photos service.

In its blogpost, the company said it believes that "once a story is rated as false, we have been able to reduce its distribution by 80 per cent, and thereby, improve accuracy of information on Facebook and reduce misinformation".

In December 2017 Facebook announced that users would be notified if a picture of them was uploaded by someone else, even if they hadn't been tagged in it.

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

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