Zucked Over: Facebook Could Pay Billions in Court Decision

August 13th, 2019 1:32 PM

A lawsuit against Facebook has ended in a loss for the massive social media platform. 

Reuters reported that a federal court ruled against Facebook, declaring that it illegally collected and stored biometric data of users without their consent.

Shawn Williams, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said “This biometric data is so sensitive that if it is compromised, there is simply no recourse. He later added “It’s not like a Social Security card or credit card number where you can change the number. You can’t change your face.” Williams claims that up to seven million Facebook users could be included in the lawsuit.

Facebook maintains in an email to Reuters that “we have always disclosed our use of face recognition technology and that people can turn it on or off at any time.”

The court concluded that “the development of face template using facial-recognition technology without consent (as alleged here) invades an individual's private affairs and concrete interests."

The ruling has been a long time coming. Illinois users accused Facebook in 2015 of violating their state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act or BIPA which charges $1,000 for each negligent violation and a whopping $5,000 for each intentional or “reckless” violation.

The offending feature was the “Tag Suggestions” function, which would analyze the faces of user uploaded photos in order to tag user’s friends. 

According to Reuters, Circuit Judge Sandra Ikuta declared that Illinois users in particular could sue the Big Tech giant as a group rather than as individuals. She also deliberately hammered home the fact that the BIPA law was intended to protect users’ “concrete interests in privacy,” and that Facebook brazenly violated this with  their facial recognition technology, stating that it “invades an individual’s private affairs and concrete interests.”