Facebook to Face Angry Illinoisans Over Facial Recognition Tech

by Lawrence Cooper April 18, 2018, 1:53
Facebook to Face Angry Illinoisans Over Facial Recognition Tech

As part of initial legal procedure, the class of people filing this lawsuit has been legally defined as Facebook users "in IL for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011".

The decision by a United States district judge means the company could be sued by millions of US users.

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. Damages could be steep - a fact that wasn't lost on the judge, who was unsympathetic to Facebook's arguments for limiting its legal exposure.

The suit seeks penalties of up to $5,000 for every time a user's facial image is used without his or her permission.

They are referring to Facebook's "tag suggestions" feature, which uses facial recognition to suggest which friends to tag in a photo.

The plaintiffs say Facebook's creation and storing of face templates for automatic photo-tagging purposes is prohibited under BIPA.

Facebook, which got the case moved to San Francisco from IL, argued the users hadn't suffered a concrete injury such as physical harm, loss of money or property; or a denial of their right to free speech or religion. Judge Donato put the extent of the damages into perspective, "Facebook seems to believe statutory damages could amount to billions of dollars".

But, unlike the Cambridge Analytica shitshow, this isn't a question of confidentiality; District Judge James Donato ruled in San Francisco federal court that a class action is the most efficient way to resolve this dispute.

Facebook used a program called DeepFace to match photos of a person tagged in a picture to other photos of them.

For its part, Facebook said it believes the case has "no merit". In order to do this, Facebook would have to collect users' biometric data to ensure their facial recognition tech would work, triggering privacy concerns. Now, the same judge who denied the tech giant's 2016 motion to dismiss has given the go-ahead to proceed with a class action lawsuit.


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