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Facebook class action looms over facial recognition software

17 April 2018

U.S. District Judge James Donato of the Northern District of California on Monday certified a class in a case brought against Facebook under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA-a law governing the collection and storage of biometric indicators like fingerprints, facial features and iris scans.

Launched in 2014, "Bumble" initially allowed Facebook-based information to speed up and simplify the process of registration and logging in of new users.

"We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously", Facebook said in a statement.

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Lawsuit challenges the social-network giant over its gathering of facial recognition data on photos without the consent of users.

The plaintiffs, a group of Facebook users in IL, say Facebook collects and stores the biometric data of users as a part of a "face template" without prior notice or consent. In addition, Facebook says that users can opt out of the feature. The lawsuit was originally filed back in 2015 by users in IL, accusing the social network of violating a law in the state that prohibits the collection of biometric info. Plaintiffs claim that Facebook violated BIPA by collecting and storing IL users' biometric data without prior notice or consent through its "Tag Suggestions" tool-a feature launched in 2011 that prompts users to identify friends in pictures uploaded to the social media site.

Facebook violated an IL state law by improperly using their photo-scanning and facial recognition technologies and storing biometric data without their users' consent, a federal judge in California ruled on Monday, after reviewing a 2015 claim made against Facebook by three IL plaintiffs.

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Facebook is believed to have a collection of face data far greater than law enforcement authorities, and some have anxious about it potentially being used to identify people in public spaces such as at protests.

As the scandal unfolded, the Electronic Privacy Information Center said it would challenge Facebook's use of facial recognition with the Federal Trade Commission.

A Facebook spokesperson told CNN the company is reviewing the ruling.

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Folks can, of course, turn off the service via Facebook's privacy settings.

Facebook class action looms over facial recognition software