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Facebook Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over Facial Recognition Data

A new class action lawsuit claims Facebook violated its users’ privacy rights in acquiring what it describes as the largest privately held database of facial recognition data in the world.

According to a report from Courthouse News Service, lead plaintiff Carlo Licata, of Cook County, claims the social network violated Illinois privacy laws by not providing him with written notification that his biometric data was being collected or stored.

Furthermore, Licata claims that it’s also unlawful to collect biometric data in the state without clearly stating the purpose for which that data is being collected, along with notification of how long it would be stored for.

Licata, represented by attorney Jay Edelson, claims that Facebook began violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2008 when it introduced its facial recognition tech in 2010 in a “purported attempt to make the process of tagging friends easier”.

At the centre of the lawsuit lies Facebook’s “tag suggestions” program which scans images uploaded by users – with facial recognition technology developed by Face.com, a company later acquired by Facebook – and then identifies any friends who may also be using the service so that they may tag them if they so wish.

The lawsuit claims this type of data mining is a direct violation of users’ privacy laws with Licata describing it as a “brazen disregard for its users’ privacy rights”.

In the lawsuit Licata says he first signed up for Facebook in 2009 and has since been tagged in photos by friends – despite never giving the company permission to collect or store his biometric data. He also claims he was never informed that his biometric data would be collected and that he has never been afforded the opportunity to block Facebook from doing so.

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