Court rejects Facebook appeal to throw out privacy lawsuit

Facebook’s attempt to throw out a class action lawsuit over its use of facial recognition technology has been rejected.

Social media users in the US state of Illinois claimed Facebook illegally collected and stored biometric data for millions of users without their consent through its “Tag Suggestions” feature.

The feature allows users to recognise their Facebook friends from previously uploaded photos.

A US court of appeal voted 3-0 to reject the social media company’s appeal, meaning it could face billions of dollars in damages.

Judge Sandra Ikuta said Facebook’s alleged unauthorised use of biometric data “invades an individual’s private affairs and concrete interests”.

She said the Illinois users could sue as a group, rejecting Facebook’s claim that there should be individual lawsuits.

Facebook's 'Tag Suggestion' feature can identify users in photos
Image: Facebook’s ‘Tag Suggestion’ feature can identify users in photos

Shawn Williams, one of the lawyers representing the class action plaintiffs, said the lawsuit could include seven million Facebook users.

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“This biometric data is so sensitive that if it is compromised, there is simply no recourse,” he said.

“It’s not like a Social Security card or credit card number where you can change the number. You can’t change your face.”

A spokesperson for Facebook said: “We have always disclosed our use of face recognition technology and that people can turn it on or off at any time.”

The social media giant plans to appeal against the decision.

Google was successful in dismissing a similar lawsuit in Chicago last December.

Social media companies are currently facing criticism from politicians and regulators over their privacy practices.

Last month, Facebook agreed to a record $5bn (£4.13bn) payout to settle a Federal Trade Commission data privacy probe.

The payout still needs to be approved by the US Department of Justice.

Source: SKY NEWS

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