Facebook pays 550 million dollars to end litigation over face recognition technology

Facebook pays 550 million dollars to end litigation over face recognition technology

3. Februar 2020 0 Von Horst Buchwald

Facebook pays 550 million dollars to end litigation over face recognition technology

New York, 3.2.2020

Facebook has agreed to pay $550 million to settle claims in Illinois, where the company has violated local laws on facial recognition technologies. The results of the lawsuit were described as „the largest cash settlement ever reached to resolve a privacy dispute.

Law firm Edelson, Robbins Geller and Labaton Sukharov filed a lawsuit nearly five years ago on behalf of Facebook users in Illinois. The lawyers argued that the social network’s „tag suggestions“ feature violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

The BIPA seeks to protect users from having their biometric information used or sold without their consent. The Act requires vendors to develop a written policy specifying how the information will be collected, the purpose of the collection, and when the information will be destroyed – either after its purpose is fulfilled or within three years of a user’s last interaction with an organization. BIPA also requires written consent from individuals to collect and store their biometric markers.

The lawsuit alleges that the way Facebook collected biometric faceprints for use in marker proposals violated those provisions because biometric identifiers were scraped, stored and used without a schedule for their release or destruction.

Facebook is not the only company that has been audited for its biometric practices under this law. Delaware-based Vimeo has also been accused of collecting and storing biometric features from users without clear written consent.

Just last week, Clearview AI became the focus of a new class action lawsuit in which the start-up claims it is selling access to biometric facial images to law enforcement agencies without consent. According to reports, Clearview AI owns more than three billion images that have been removed from sites such as Facebook and YouTube.

The Facebook case was first brought by Edelson, and after Robbins Geller and Labaton Sukharov filed similar lawsuits, the case was consolidated and transferred to the United States District Court in San Francisco. The case was also heard in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.

The social networking giant argued that Illinois law should not apply because the data was stored outside the state. The arbitration sessions failed repeatedly, but since it was clear that the case would not go away, the parties finally reached an agreement.

The $550 million of the settlement will be used for a pure cash fund to compensate users. However, the district court presiding over the case must first approve the agreement and the amount before the fund can be officially established.

„This case should serve as a call for clarification to businesses that consumers are very concerned about their rights to privacy and, if pushed, will fight for those rights all the way to the Supreme Court and back until they receive fair compensation,“ commented Paul Geller, Robbins Geller’s director of the consumer protection arm.

Facebook has always denied any wrongdoing. A spokesperson told journalists that Facebook has chosen to settle the dispute because „it is in the best interests of our community and our shareholders to overcome this issue.