Judge Awards $650M In Facebook Privacy Settlement Case

Venezuelan Government to Present Bill to Regulate Social Networks. image: Pixabay

Judge Awards $650M In Facebook Privacy Settlement Case.

A FEDERAL judge has approved a $650 (€538) million settlement of a privacy lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly using photo face-tagging and other biometric data without asking the permission of its users.

U.S. District Judge James Donato approved the deal in a class-action lawsuit that was filed in Illinois in 2015. Nearly 1.6 million Facebook users in Illinois who submitted claims will be affected. Donato called it one of the largest settlements ever for a privacy violation.

“It will put at least $345 (€285)into the hands of every class member interested in being compensated,” he wrote, calling it “a major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy.”

The judge also identified other significant obstacles to winning at trial, including disputes over whether Facebook could be held liable because its servers are located outside of Illinois, whether its technology scans facial geometry to recognize faces, whether it obtained users’ consent to collect and store their data and whether it had a “good-faith belief that its actions were permissible” under the law.

Jay Edelson, a Chicago attorney who filed the lawsuit, said that the payment could be in the mail within two months unless the ruling is appealed.

“We are pleased to have reached a settlement so we can move past this matter, which is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders,” Facebook, which is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, said in a statement.

The lawsuit accused the social media giant of violating an Illinois privacy law by failing to get consent before using facial-recognition technology to scan photos uploaded by users to create and store faces digitally.

The state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act allowed consumers to sue companies that didn’t get permission before harvesting data such as faces and fingerprints. The case eventually wound up as a class-action lawsuit in California.

Facebook has since changed its photo-tagging system.

 


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Tony Winterburn

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