A federal appeals court rejected Facebook’s appeal regarding a class action lawsuit regarding their use and storage of biometric data. The plaintiffs claim that Facebook did not alert users that they were using facial recognition, although Facebook claimed the opposite, according to an article from Reuters. The 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco voted to reject Facebook’s appeal three to zero. If Facebook loses the class action lawsuit, they could be fined billions in damages to the Illinois users that initially started the case in 2015.
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The plaintiffs claim that Facebook violated their state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act by collecting biometrics, used in the Facebook “Tag Suggestions” feature. Judge Sandra Ikuta or the appeals court said that the law was intended to protect “concrete interests in [individual] privacy” while Facebook’s allegedly unauthorized usage of biometrics invaded. Shawn Williams, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said,
“This biometric data is so sensitive that if it is compromised, there is simply no recourse. It’s not like a Social Security card or credit card number where you can change the number. You can’t change your face.”
Facebook Exposed User Data
The biometrics class action lawsuit is not the first time that Facebook has been accused of violating users’ privacy. Last year, Facebook was chastised for selling user data to Cambridge Analytica, a company that Donald Trump used in his 2016 presidential campaign. Later in the year, it was revealed that Facebook exposed the data of about three million users. Data from myPersonality, a Facebook app that asks users intimate questions for psychological tests, was exposed online for years, according to New Scientist. Given Facebook’s recent privacy scandals, it is unclear how their more recent projects, such as their voice assistant, will be received by the public.