Facebook just lost out in a biometrics court battle

A Californian federal court judge presiding over a case against Facebook has turned down the social network’s call for the suit to be dismissed.

Facebook just lost out in a biometrics court battle

The case follows allegations from some users that the social network has unlawfully collected and stored users’ biometric data, stemming from the use of the company’s facial recognition technology.

These users claim that Facebook’s automatic suggestion of “tags” for photos is in violation with Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). Facebook filed a motion arguing that the accusers couldn’t base a complaint on the BIPA, as the user agreement signed by the plaintiffs specifies Californian law would govern disputes with the company. Facebook moved to dismiss the case on these grounds.

Facebook sharing is falling

The judge, however, ruled that the Illinois law does in fact apply to the dispute, and the accusers had valid grounds to make a claim under Illinois’ biometric law. The case will now move forward.

An overall ruling in the favour of the plaintiffs could have major repercussions for Facebook’s photo-tagging system, but also on the industry’s handling at large of biometric data derived from photographs. A case against facial recognition technology on the grounds of privacy isn’t without precedent. In March, Google was similarly sued under Illinois’ biometrics law over its cloud-based service, Google Photos.

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