Facebook in $500 million privacy violation lawsuit

January 30, 2020
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Facebook is set to pay $550 million over another lawsuit on privacy violations. The money is meant to settle a class-action lawsuit that alleged that Facebook systematically violated an Illinois consumer privacy law.

Facebook risks facing a $35 billion maximum fine if it does not pay the settlement. As part of the settlement, the tech giant would need to obtain consent in the future from Illinois users for purposes such as face analysis for automatic tagging.

The backstory: The lawsuit was filed in 2015 when Facebook was accused of collecting images of users’ facial recognition data without disclosure. This was against the state’s 2008 Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

In 2016, Facebook argued that the facial recognition processing didn’t count as biometric data and that Illinois law didn’t apply to it as it is a California company. However, the judge in charge of the case rejected the arguments. Facebook was also suspected of lobbying efforts towards winning the case at that time.

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The company later took the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but it was unfortunately turned down. The court hereby concluded that it was guilty of using facial recognition without consent. After going back and forth, Facebook finally decided to settle the case saying it was in the best interest of its community and shareholders to move past the matter.

Recall that Facebook was fined $5 billion for privacy violations last year. The company had repeatedly misled its 2.2 billion users  by allowing app developers, advertisers, and others gained access to users’ personal data. This is according to the U.S Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Facebook had also been involved in anti-trust investigations and probes. It also faced scrutiny and investigation of its proposed digital currency, Libra, which is scheduled to launch this year. Though other companies such as Google and YouTube have faced similar probes, Facebook seems to have been hit the hardest.

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