Facebook hit with class action suit over facial recognition tool



Whoa! We almost went a full day without some negative news on Facebook breaking.

Judge James Donato ruled the claims by IL residents Nimesh Patel, Adam Pezen, and Carlo Licata were "sufficiently cohesive to allow for a fair and efficient resolution on a class basis". This allows for the consolidation of several suits against the company, all with the same allegations, down to one.

A federal judge in California has ruled that Facebook can be sued in a class-action lawsuit brought by users in IL who say the social network improperly used facial recognition technology on their uploaded photographs. Facebook is creating and storing "face templates" based on facial characteristics found in photos. It has been doing this since 2010 so that it can automatically put a name to the face seen in a photograph.

The plaintiffs are three Illinois Facebook users who sued under a state law that says a private entity such as Facebook can't collect and store a person's biometric facial information without their written consent.

Lawsuit accuses Facebook of violating a 2008 IL law that prohibits companies from collecting and storing the biometric data of people without their consent. The law, known as the Biometric Information Privacy Act, also says that information that uniquely identifies an individual is, in essence, their property. In addition, Facebook says that users can opt out of the feature. The company could end up writing a big check should it lose this case.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company was reviewing the decision, adding: "We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously".