Facebook's facial recognition tool faces class action suit over mishandling biometric data


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. Not everyone who's had their photos uploaded on the website can be part of the complaint, but the class-action could still have millions of people in the plaintiff's camp.

Nimesh Patel started his suit against Facebook back in 2015 for violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which protected citizens data by requiring informed consent to gather biometric information, including about their faces.

A spokesperson, however, told Reuters that "We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously".

In the document, Facebook illustrates how it can crunch its user base of over 2 billion people and predicts millions of people who are "at risk" of jumping ship from one brand to a competitor. 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".

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 should suspend further deployment of facial recognition pending the outcome of the FTC investigation", EPIC President Marc Rotenberg said.

The facial recognition feature isn't now available in the UK.

Launched in 2014, "Bumble" initially allowed Facebook-based information to speed up and simplify the process of registration and logging in of new users. The class suit can accommodate all "Facebook users located in IL for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011", the judge noted.