US lawsuit over Facebook’s use of biometric data continues

A lawsuit brought by several residents of the US state of Illinois continues. The complainants believe that Facebook is violating privacy laws by storing biometric data based on faces in images.

Facebook claimed in the first round of the lawsuit that it could not be brought under Illinois privacy law, specifically the “Biometric Information Privacy Act.” However, a California court judge ruled on Thursday that this argument is not valid and that the lawsuit can go ahead. Both sides had previously agreed to move the case from Illinois to California, Reuters reported.

The Verge further reports that the lawsuit concerns whether Facebook’s tagging of images is an infringement of users’ privacy. Facebook would process the biometric data of faces without the explicit consent of its users. This data is then used to represent a particular tag. An opt-out is possible, but it is unclear whether this can be seen as a form of consent.

A Facebook spokesperson told the site that “it is a matter of no importance and that Facebook will defend itself vigorously.” Facebook’s facial recognition feature is controversial in Europe as well. For example, privacy regulators in Norway and Germany started investigations into this function a few years ago. In 2012, Facebook decided to disable the ‘tag suggest’ function for the EU and delete existing data, after the Irish regulator also launched an investigation.

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