Users of the social media platform Facebook have unknowingly had their faces stored, saved and compiled in a database without their consent. An open lawsuit is still pending.
This suit dates back to 2015 when a group of Illinois users accused Facebook of violating the state’s Bio-metric Information Privacy Act which prohibits companies to store bio-metric data without consent.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco came to a 3-0 decision over whether they considered Facebook’s facial recognition tools to be unauthorized, leaving the company open to billions of dollars’ worth of damages to users who started the class action lawsuit.
With Facebook’s technology, users have the option to tag their friends based upon the same bio-metric data gathered on the platform. This feature allows users to recognize one another online based upon a previously uploaded photograph.
Both incredibly and disturbingly ‘tagging’ is used to compile and analyze facial geometric data points. These points distinguish between someone’s eyes, ears and nose among other instances.
Obviously, this kind of data is unlawful and is further changing society in a disturbing way. Privacy is a big concern and many likely want the big tech companies to comply with the citizens requests. It is about making money and getting richer to these kind of corporations.
Back when Facebook first released the ‘tag’ feature, user’s bio-metric identifiers were collected without any kind of consent. There were no guidelines or warnings made about it and whether or not the data collected would be disposed of by Facebook. Afterwards, a panel of circuit judges decided that privacy damages were a real thing. This allowed for the class action lawsuit to continue to proceed.
Sandra Ikuta was one judge who stated the following, in regards to this type of data collection and the privacy issue concerns:
“Taking into account the future development of such technology… it seems that a face-mapped individual could be identified from a surveillance photo taken on the streets or an office building.
Or a bio-metric face template could be used to unlock the face recognition lock on that individual’s cell phone.”Illinois’ Bio-metric Information Privacy Act has a payout of $1,000 for negligent violations of the law, and $5,000 per intentional or reckless violation.
The real issue here is when someone’s privacy has been taken away from them, a tech company like Facebook who collects this data is in violation of this.
Shawn Williams is one lawyer for the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, he said:
“This bio-metric data is so sensitive that if it is compromised there is simply no recourse. It’s not like a Social Security card or credit card number where you can change the number. You can’t change your face.”
Facebook continues to be in the line of fire for controversy and at some point will likely be shutdown for these kind of practices. There are other social media platforms, that have come along and users are slowly leaving Facebook to join them. These other platforms state what they do and how users information is used. They are not selling or collecting data without users consent.