A class action suit was filed against Facebook by a group of Facebook users in Illinois over usage of its facial recognition feature. This feature was introduced by Facebook in 2011 and allows it to scan pictures uploaded by users and suggest tagging of their friends.
The lawsuit was filed in 2015 alleging violation of a 2008 Illinois law known as the Biometric Privacy Act (BIPA). BIPA prohibits collection of biometric information including facial recognition data. According to NPR, the lawsuit seeks penalties of up to $5,000 for each time a facial image is used without permission.
Judge James Donato of California’s Northern District before whom the suit has been filed, certified the class of users in Illionois whose facial recognition data has been created and stored by Facebook after June 7, 2011. He has allowed the suit to be moved forward to trial. It has been reported in Techcrunch that the judge has found that the “plaintiffs’ claims are sufficiently cohesive to allow for a fair and efficient resolution on a class basis”. The plaintiffs’ arguments revolved around how user information uniquely identifying an individual is, in essence, the individual’s property. In reply, the Facebook spokesperson told, "We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously,” according to CNN Tech.
The ruling comes in the midst of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal in which illegal data harvesting of millions of Facebook users has been alleged.