Facebook to Face Angry Illinoisans Over Facial Recognition Tech

Facebook Ordered to Face Lawsuit Over Facial Recognition

Facebook Ordered to Face Lawsuit Over Facial Recognition

District judge James Donato has given the go-ahead for a major lawsuit to settle a dispute between the social network and a group of users in IL over the handling of their private data, The Independent reports.

In this case, the plaintiffs are claiming that the social network illegally used a facial recognition system on photos without users' permission.

Not very long after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced Congress regarding Facebook's poor handling of users' data as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company has now been accused of illicitly obtaining users' biometric information through the use of facial recognition technology. 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". Specifically, Facebook has created, collected and stored over a billion "face templates" (or "face prints") - highly detailed geometric maps of the face - from over a billion individuals, millions of whom reside in the State of IL.

The company adds that the data it collects isn't covered by IL law, which explicitly prevents the collection of biometric data such as facial geometry, fingerprints and "voice prints". In addition, Facebook says that users can opt out of the feature.

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Singapore is planning to turn on facial recognition technology for over 100,000 lampposts. Source Reuters

Cambridge University researcher Jennifer Cobbe pointed out Monday that Facebook users in Europe are confronted with a page asking for consent for facial recognition, but that the first page has no option for "no" and it is only possible to deny access by navigating through a series of settings menus. As far back as 2015, The Anti Media reported on a lawsuit involving a man who, despite not having a Facebook account, was fighting to get his "faceprint" from the company.

Most of this isn't new information, but it's part of Facebook's initiative to be more transparent with the government and its users about how the data it collects is shared.

In December 2017 Facebook announced that users would be notified if a picture of them was uploaded by someone else, even if they hadn't been tagged in it.

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