Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 11, 2018 in Washington, DC
Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 11, 2018 in Washington, DC

Facebook must face lawsuit over facial recognition technology, judge rules

The site looks through uploaded pictures and tries to spot users in them

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 17 April 2018 08:46
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Facebook has to face a class action lawsuit over claims that it was using facial recognition on people's photos without their permission.

The decision brings yet more troubles to Facebook as it deals with a range of privacy and data abuse scandals. The problems have been mounting for weeks, ever since it became clear that the platform had been giving up users' data to developers without them necessarily knowing.

That has led to a range of new scrutiny, including people realising that Facebook appears to be tracking their phone calls and who they message.

Now, in another blow, US District Judge James Donato has given the go-ahead for a major lawsuit over the way the sites' facial recognition tools work. He ruled in San Francisco federal court that a class action was the most efficient way to resolve the dispute over facial templates.

Facebook said it was reviewing the ruling. "We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously," the company said in a statement.

Mark Zuckerberg says that Facebook obtaining information from phone calls is a 'conspiracy theory'

Lawyers for the plaintiffs could not immediately be reached for comment.

Facebook users sued in 2015, alleging violations of an Illinois state law about the privacy of biometric information.

The class will consist of Facebook users in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored facial recognition algorithms after June 7, 2011, Donato ruled. That is the date when Facebook launched "Tag Suggestions," a feature that suggests people to tag after a Facebook user uploads a photo.

In the U.S. court system, certification of a class is typically a major hurdle that plaintiffs in proposed class actions need to overcome before reaching a possible settlement or trial.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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