Judge says class action suit against Facebook over facial recognition tech can go ahead

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

Facebook might think it’s facing enough problems right now, but the company's about to run into another privacy-related headache. A federal judge has just given the go-ahead for three Illinois users to file a class action lawsuit against the social network over its facial recognition systems.

The suit—first filed in 2015—alleges that Facebook’s photo-tagging feature violates Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which forbids collection of identifiable biometric data without a person’s explicit consent.

Facebook’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit was rejected in May 2016. Now, US District Judge James Donato has ruled that it can proceed with class-action status.

The plaintiffs say Facebook’s creation and storing of face templates for automatic photo-tagging purposes is prohibited under BIPA. But despite Facebook’s success in getting the case moved from Illinois to San Francisco, the judge ruled that “plaintiffs’ claims are sufficiently cohesive to allow for a fair and efficient resolution on a class basis.”

Facebook’s arguments that no “actual” harm was caused and that the Act can’t apply because its servers aren’t in Illinois failed to convince Donato. The company also tried and failed to claim that the data it collects isn’t covered by BIPA, which restricts the collection of fingerprints, voice prints, and “hand or face geometry.”

Under BIPA, Facebook could be fined between $1000 and $5000 for every occasion that a person’s image was used without their consent. A company spokesperson said it is "reviewing the ruling,” adding that "we continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously."

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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Facebook continues to push the edges of legal and ethical boundaries and if we are all lucky legislation like that now in place in Germany will be implemented. As confirmed by Zuk's testmony, the bottom like is about Facebook's bottom line, not trying to bring us all together .....
 
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senketsu

Facial recognition technology has an upside (catching criminals), but a much bigger downside IMHO.
as the tech improves they will be watching your facial reactions to the content. What content makes you happy, sad, angry, gives likes, dislikes etc. They will watch your expression to the ads. If they can push it, there will be a time when your eyes move away from the ad on the screen and the ad will pause and not resume until you look at it again.
Frankly I'm not sad that if I live to the expected life span that I am in the second half (yup, it's all downhill from here LOL) that I won't be around for the FUTURE
 

lostinlodos

TS Booster
From the I don’t care (much) about privacy corner,
all I see is yet another example of nanny state progressive protectionism, in this case Illinois, trying to force feed their laws on members of other states.
Facebook has no server in Illinois and as such it is a legal FACT that Illinois law can not in any way be attached.
I don’t doubt for a second that a progressive judge and progressive jury will find them “guilty” despite breaking no law; but it will be quickly overturned on appeal. I just hope the appeal attaches a mandate for losses so these three self righteous fools can be fined and garnished for the state of Illinois maximum, $500,000 each. That will teach them to waste tax payer’s money on frivolous nonsense lawsuits.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Typical fakebook and Zuckerberg - what a d!ck. Translated: We can break the law because when we break it, it causes no actual harm. FU Zuckerberg. Grow up!
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
From the I don’t care (much) about privacy corner,
all I see is yet another example of nanny state progressive protectionism, in this case Illinois, trying to force feed their laws on members of other states.
Facebook has no server in Illinois and as such it is a legal FACT that Illinois law can not in any way be attached.
I don’t doubt for a second that a progressive judge and progressive jury will find them “guilty” despite breaking no law; but it will be quickly overturned on appeal. I just hope the appeal attaches a mandate for losses so these three self righteous fools can be fined and garnished for the state of Illinois maximum, $500,000 each. That will teach them to waste tax payer’s money on frivolous nonsense lawsuits.
As I see it, this has nothing to do with whether you are on the left or the right, or even privacy, for that matter.

Here is a thought experiment: Suppose that biometric data that is collected is used to steal your identity. Would you care then?

I am willing to bet that at least part of the reason that the IL law was written was exactly for that reason - biometric data can be used for identity theft.
 
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lostinlodos

TS Booster
Don’t get me wrong I don’t use Facebook, I think the entire thing is a waste of time and nobody needs to know what you had for breakfast.
This is a different issue. People need to separate biometric data from the concerns of use. Outside of mission impossible and the CIA people aren’t running around printing out finger sleeves and fake contact irises.
Facebook and Apple and Samsung identifying you by bio data isn’t really a bad thing.
Unlike a password that you use on 30 different sites this isn’t something they can use anywhere else on their own. Er...easily...! The fact that multiple face recognition authentication algorithms can be fools with a photo makes the premise useless in today’s world though.
The same advances that allow me to, finally, use Touch ID on an iPhone 8 with my extremely light and weak fingerprints that didn’t work on the </= 7 or Samsung or reader at the pharmacy, allow for good quality scanned printouts to fool the device. Then again modern printers can print fake old currency that will fool any old pre security vending machine ON PLANE PAPER!

My hope is not that Facebook gets some sort of problem here, but that a controversial company like Facebook using this technology may be enough to jump start a realistic review of the technology on both the application of and the security of issues involved.

What we don’t need is a controversial court violating the constitutional separations turning this into a political circus. This doesn’t help anyone. This just turns the focus to something else entirely.
 
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senketsu

Sorry, can't remember the documentary, but they were riding along with Los Angeles police and they already have licence plate scanning and rudimentary facial recognition on their squad cars. The licence plate scanner will automatically tell them if the driver has warrants etc, and she also stated the facial recognition scanner would only function well if it caught the face full on (like if you look at the car as it goes by). This was stated by the officer driving.
 
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