In Brief

Facebook sued over face-scanning tech

Social media giant could be forced to pay billions in compensation

Facebook faces a class action lawsuit over claims that it used facial recognition tools on users’ photos without their permission, a US judge has ruled.

District judge James Donato has given the go-ahead for a major lawsuit to settle a dispute between the social network and a group of users in Illinois over the handling of their private data, The Independent reports.

The judge ruled in a San Francisco court that Facebook “created and stored facial recognition algorithms” on the group of users after 7 July 2011, the date the social media site launched its face-scanning tools. 

According to BBC News, the technology involves Facebook’s “tag suggestions”, which can identify a user’s friends in an image. 

Facebook denies any wrongdoing. It has pledged to fight the class action lawsuit “vigorously”, the BBC reports. 

The outcome of the case hinges on a law in Illinois called the Biometric Information Privacy Act that prevents private entities from storing a person’s biometrics information without their explicit consent, says Alphr

If the lawsuit goes ahead, every member of the Illinois group could be entitled to compensation, potentially costing Facebook billions of dollars.

Business Insider says each member of the group is seeking $5,000 (£3,482) for every occasion where a person’s image was used without consent. 

Facebook only uses its face-scanning tech in certain countries. The social network turned off facial recognition in Europe in 2012, the website says.

The lawsuit comes days after Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg faced US senators to answer questions about how the social media service handles the personal information of its users. 

During the Senate hearings, Zuckerberg admitted that his company collected information from non-Facebook users for “security reasons”, some of which was processed by the data firm Cambridge Analytica. 

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