Social Media

Facebook to Pay USD 650 Million in US Privacy Lawsuit Settlement

The social media platform Facebook has agreed to pay USD 650 million as a US Judge approves the privacy settlement.

As Facebook and its family of apps face scrutiny over privacy issues globally, a court in the US has accepted a USD 650 million class-action privacy lawsuit against the platform for allegedly using its facial recognition feature without the permission of the users on its platform.

As per media reports, Judge James Donato of the Northern District of California approved the settlement in the Facebook privacy lawsuit that was filed in the state of Illinois in 2015. As per Judge James Donato, the three named plaintiffs will each receive USD 5,000, and others in the class-action lawsuit will get at least USD 345 each. Donato even said, “The settlement was a landmark result and a major win for consumers in the highly contested area of digital privacy.”

The judge even ordered the 1.6 million members of the class-action lawsuit in Illinois, who submitted claims, to be paid as soon as possible.

Chicago attorney Jay Edelson sued Facebook in 2015, saying that the platform’s use of facial recognition tagging was not allowed under Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.

The lawsuit said Facebook violated an Illinois privacy law by not taking the consent of users before using facial-recognition technology to scan photos uploaded on the platform to create and store faces digitally.

The lawsuit stated that the Tag Suggestions tool of Facebook’s that scanned faces in users’ photos, stored the biometric data without the consent of the users in violation of the Illinois law.

The Biometric Information Privacy Act allowed consumers to sue companies that did not get permission before harvesting data such as faces and fingerprints.

In 2018 the privacy settlement case became a class-action lawsuit. In 2019, Facebook made the facial recognition feature on its platform opt-in only.

Facebook said in a statement, “We are very happy to have reached a settlement finally. Now the company can move past this matter. This is in the interest of our community and our shareholders”.

Jay Edelson, a Chicago attorney who filed the lawsuit, said that the checks could be in the mail within two months until the ruling is appealed.

The case eventually has been wound up as a class-action lawsuit in California.

Edelson added, “It’s a big deal. It sends a clear message that in Illinois, biometric privacy rights are still to stay.”

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