Facebook to Face Angry Illinoisans Over Facial Recognition Tech

Facebook to Face Angry Illinoisans Over Facial Recognition Tech

A federal judge ruled that consumers in IL could proceed with a class action lawsuit over the facial recognition technology that helps Facebook power its Tag Suggestions tool. 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". According to a court order, the class of people are Facebook users in IL for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011. The lawsuit is being filed over an IL state law called the Biometric Information Privacy Act.

On Monday, Judge Donato ruled to certify a class of Facebook users - a key legal hurdle for a class action suit.

Facebook has used facial recognition technology on photos posted to the site since 2010 to automatically detect and put names to faces. 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 social network turned off facial recognition in Europe in 2012, the website says. "This unwanted, unnecessary, and risky identification of individuals undermines user privacy, ignores the explicit preferences of Facebook users, and is contrary to law in several state and many parts of the world", the complaint states.

A California judge on Monday gave the green light to a three-year-old case claiming the social network violated IL law.

Now, millions of Facebook users in the state of IL can seek up to $5,000 for each time the company's "Tag Suggestions" feature was used to mark them in a photo without their explicit consent.

The decision comes at a time when Facebook is embroiled in a scandal after reports that British data firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly gathered detailed Facebook information on 87 million users, up from a previous estimate of more than 50 million.

What does the facial recognition do? However, for the moment, users should be aware that their words and face are owned by Facebook and whoever else they decide to share the data with. "We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously", the company said in a statement.

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