Facebook class action looms over facial recognition software

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Whoa! We almost went a full day without some negative news on Facebook breaking. On Monday, US District Judge James Donato ruled that the lawsuit can proceed as a class action, meaning any person in a defined group can be entitled to compensation.

A federal judge has just given the go-ahead for three IL users to file a class action lawsuit against the social network over its facial recognition systems. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) users in IL sued the company in 2015 for violating a state privacy law.

The lawsuit, which was first filed in 2015, says Facebook broke the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2008, which says a company must obtain written permission before scanning and storing one's biometrics, including the type of face-scanning technology Facebook uses to tag users in photos. It has been doing this since 2010 so that it can automatically put a name to the face seen in a photograph. Facebook successfully requested that the case be moved from IL to San Francisco and its defense appears to be that the IL law is all about the use of biometric data such as fingerprints, retina and iris scans, voice prints, and scans of peoples' hands and faces.

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Facebook might think it's facing enough problems right now, but the company's about to run into another privacy-related headache.

Facebook's motion to dismiss the lawsuit was rejected in May 2016.

Facebook also contends it has been very open about the tool since its inception and allows users to turn it off and prevent themselves from being suggested in photo tags. A company spokesperson said it is "reviewing the ruling", adding that "we continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously". "If you've never been tagged in a photo on Facebook or have untagged yourself in all photos of you on Facebook, then we do not have this summary information for you", the company says.

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