A San Francisco federal judge has just given the green light to a class action lawsuit against Facebook over its controversial facial recognition technology. Plaintiffs complained that the social media platform is automatically tagging them in their and their friends’ pictures without their consent.
The lawsuit was filed in 2015, but this week, it has finally received the go-ahead.
Plaintiffs cite a law in Illinois that bars companies from harvesting customers’ biometric data. Facebook, on the other hand, has been collecting that data including facial recognition for years.
The company has been trying for years to dismiss the case and even pushed for a legislative proposal that would render the Illinois law harmless.
Judge James Donato found Monday that plaintiffs’ complaints are “sufficiently cohesive” for the case to proceed as a class action lawsuit. Facebook is being sued by Illinois users whose faces have been tagged and stored after June 2011, when the law passed.
Facebook Tried to Have Case Dismissed… Twice
An earlier class action which included all Facebook users in Illinois was dismissed as the judge concluded that such lawsuit would include people in Facebook pictures that had not been tagged.
The latest lawsuit is smaller but will still include millions of people.
Facebook tried to dismiss this lawsuit as well, arguing that users who sued “know almost nothing” about the platform’s facial recognition tech. Judge Donato, though, decided that the plaintiffs have a “perfectly adequate understanding” of the said systems.
The social media giant also argued that the case is without merit since no “actual” harm was inflicted upon users. The court responded that users’ privacy, not wallet or body, was harmed by Facebook’s tactics.
The judge underlined that the issue whether plaintiffs consented to have their faces tagged will be a “major crux” in the lawsuit.
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