Facebook received another backlash as it will face a class-action lawsuit in wake of the recent privacy scandal, a US federal judge has ruled.
It was revealed that Facebook used a photo-scanning tool on its users’ pictures without seeking their consent after allegations of privacy violations surfaced.
The facial recognition feature was developed and launched in 2010, which suggested tags on Photos uploaded by the Facebook users.
The company could end up paying large sums of money because under Illinois state law Facebook could be fined ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 for every single time a person’s photo was used without explicit consent.
This feature was disabled for the Facebook users in Europe way back in 2012 over privacy concerns, but for some reason, this feature is still up and running in the US and some other parts of the world.
It is understood that the feature goes against the Illinois state law that ensures the protection of the biometric privacy.
The suit was filed by the residents of Illinois namely Nimesh Patel, Adam Pezen, and Carlo Licata. Judge James Donato ruled that the party were ‘sufficiently cohesive to allow for a fair and efficient resolution on a class basis.’
‘Consequently, the case will proceed with a class consisting of Facebook users located in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011,’ he said, according to the ruling.
The feature called ‘tag suggestions’ was rolled out in June of 2011 by the Facebook.
This feature is not allowed in most countries like the UK thus it is not provided by Facebook to its users residing in such countries. However, in the US it is available since it was first rolled out and can be turned off in the settings menu.
The Judge also wrote in the ruling that ‘Facebook believes that the lawsuit shouldn’t be a class-action suit and should be pursued by an individual as it could cost Facebook billions of dollars in damages.’
The judge has ruled that the Illinois law is clear: Facebook has collected a ‘wealth of data on its users, including self-reported residency and IP addresses,’
The company has acknowledged that it can identify users who live in Illinois that have face templates, he wrote.
A face template is facial biometric data that can be generated with merely ten or more photos and is used to create profiles on Facebook’s database.
‘Although many individuals may not have had enough tagged photos to generate a face template in Facebook’s database, in January 2011 [when Facebook implemented tag suggestions for all users] the average user was tagged in 53 photos, far more than the 10 needed to generate a face template,’ according to a December court filing.
Facebook issued a statement, ‘We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously.’
Facebook claims that it is very open about the tool since it was launched and can the be turned off.
Facebook confirmed that it collected information of its users other than their social media use.
‘When you visit a site or app that uses our services, we receive information even if you’re logged out or don’t have a Facebook account,’ product management director David Baser said in a post on the social network’s blog.
Mr. Baser said ‘many’ websites and apps use Facebook services to target content and ads, including via the social network’s Like and Share buttons.
This class-action lawsuit comes as Facebook is still struggling to deal with the Cambridge Analytica scandal.