Judge Approves Facebook’s $650M Settlement over Intrusive Facial Recognition

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook speaks at Georgetown
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/Getty

A federal judge has given final approval to a $650 million settlement for a class action lawsuit against Facebook which alleged that the Masters of the Universe stored biometric data in violation of Illinois state law.

The Verge reports that Judge James Donato of the Northern District of California approved a $650 million Facebook class action privacy settlement and ordered the 1.6 million members of the class in Illinois who submitted claims to be paid “as expeditiously as possible.”

Facebook was sued by Chicago attorney Jay Edelson in Cook County Circuit Court in 2015, alleging that Facebook’s use of facial recognition tagging was not allowed under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. The lawsuit alleged that Facebook’s Tag Suggestions tool, which scanned faces in users’ photos and offered suggestions to tag Facebook friends, stored biometric data without users’ consent.

Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act allows consumers to sue companies that do not request permission to collect and store their biometric data which includes faces and fingerprints.

In 2018 the case became a class-action lawsuit, one year later in 2019 Facebook altered the facial recognition platform to be opt-in only. The three plaintiffs named in the suit will receive $5,000 each and others in the class-action lawsuit will receive $345 each.

Judge Donato stated that the settlement was a “landmark result” and a “major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy.”

In a statement, Facebook said: “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.”

Attorney Jay Edelson stated “It’s a big deal. It sends a pretty clear message that in Illinois, biometric privacy rights are here to stay.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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