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Facebook to Pay About $350 to Millions of Users for Biometric Privacy Breach

The users are all residents of Illinois which has one of the strictest biometric privacy laws of the country.

Nearly 1.6 million Illinois Facebook users will receive about $350 each from the social media platform after it lost a biometric privacy breach case held in a California federal court, reported the Chicago Tribune.

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A groundbreaking settlement

U.S. District Judge James Donato who presided over the case called it  a “groundbreaking settlement in a novel area.” 

“This is money that’s coming directly out of Facebook’s own pocket,” Donato said. “The violations here did not extract a penny from the pockets of the victims. But this is real money that Facebook is paying to compensate them for the tangible privacy harms that they suffered."

The case took over five years to finish. Initially, Facebook proposed a settlement of $550 million which Donato rejected. The platform then increased the amount to $650 million which was approved.

Billions of dollars

According to the Chicago Tribune, Michael Rhodes, the lawyer representing Facebook, told Donato if the case went to trial, it could have cost the firm “billions and billions of dollars."

“I mean, $650 million, by any stretch of the imagination is a tremendous sum of money,” Rhodes said. “It’s not something that Facebook wants to do. But we’re also rational, intelligent people trying to manage a very significant risk.”

The case concerned about 7 million Facebook users in Illinois, one in five who filed claims that the social network stored a template of their face after June 7, 2011. Those filing claims had to have lived in the state for at least six months over the last nine years to be eligible.

The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act is among the strictest in the country forbidding firms from using tech such as facial recognition to identify customers without their permission. It looks like in this case, the little guy won. 

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