Facebook Loses Facial Recognition Lawsuit and Could Owe Billions in Fines

The social media site may be dishing out big bucks soon, as it loses its facial recognition case.
Fabienne Lang

Facebook relies pretty heavily on faces for its site to function; it's in its name after all. However, what the company then does with the photos of those faces from its site is another matter. 

The social media giant has lost a federal appeal in a class-action lawsuit that claimed the company had collected and stored biometric data of millions of its users, illegally. 


The lawsuit started back in 2015 with Illinois-based users blaming the company for not following the state's Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

Tagging friends on Facebook

The whole controversy started due to Facebook's 'tagging' feature, whereby the site suggests friends to tag when you upload images. It's able to roughly gauge who the people are by analyzing their facial details.

The plaintiffs state that this feature doesn't meet the requirements of the law. 

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco made a 3.0 decision to reject Facebook's appeal to rescind the class-action lawsuit. 

"We conclude that the development of face template using facial-recognition technology without consent (as alleged here) invades an individual's private affairs and concrete interests," said the court as it ruled its decision. 

The case could cost Facebook billions of dollars

Media publication, Reuters, stated that the lawsuit "could include seven million Facebook users," which means that Facebook will be paying up a lot of people. 

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Under BIPA, each of the affected users could be paid $1,000 in damages for each negligent violation and $5,000 for each intentional or reckless violation. 

The timing of the lawsuit comes right after Facebook already agreed to pay a $5 billion fine to settle a Federal Trade Commission data privacy probe. 

Not that there's ever a good time for these matters, but it's not looking very positive for Facebook's bank account.

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