US court rules in fa­vor of class ac­tion suit against Face­book’s fa­cial recog­ni­tion tool

Global Times - - World -

A US fed­eral judge in Cal­i­for­nia ruled Mon­day that Face­book will have to face a class ac­tion suit over al­le­ga­tions it vi­o­lated users’ pri­vacy by us­ing a fa­cial recog­ni­tion tool on their pho­tos with­out their ex­plicit con­sent.

The rul­ing comes as the so­cial net­work is snared in a scan­dal over the mis­han­dling of 87 mil­lion users’ data ahead of the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

The fa­cial recog­ni­tion tool, launched in 2010, sug­gests names for peo­ple it iden­ti­fies in pho­tos up­loaded by users – a func­tion which the plain­tiffs claim runs afoul of Illi­nois state law on pro­tect­ing bio­met­ric pri­vacy.

Judge James Donato ruled the claims by Illi­nois res­i­dents Nimesh Pa­tel, Adam Pezen, and Carlo Li­cata were “suf­fi­ciently co­he­sive to al­low for a fair and ef­fi­cient res­o­lu­tion on a class ba­sis.

“Con­se­quently, the case will pro­ceed with a class con­sist­ing of Face­book users lo­cated in Illi­nois for whom Face­book cre­ated and stored a face tem­plate af­ter June 7, 2011,” he said, ac­cord­ing to the rul­ing seen by AFP.

A Face­book spokes­woman told AFP the com­pany was re­view­ing the de­ci­sion, adding: “We con­tinue to be­lieve the case has no merit and will de­fend our­selves vig­or­ously.”

Face­book also con­tends it has been very open about the tool since its in­cep­tion and al­lows users to turn it off and pre­vent them­selves from be­ing sug­gested in photo tags. The tech­nol­ogy was sus­pended for users in Eu­rope in 2012 over pri­vacy fears.

Also on Mon­day, Face­book con­firmed that it col­lected in­for­ma­tion from peo­ple be­yond their so­cial net­work use.

“When you visit a site or app that uses our ser­vices, we re­ceive in­for­ma­tion even if you’re logged out or don’t have a Face­book ac­count,” prod­uct man­age­ment di­rec­tor David Baser said in a post on the so­cial net­work’s blog.

Baser said “many” web­sites and apps use Face­book ser­vices to tar­get con­tent and ads, in­clud­ing via the so­cial net­work’s Like and Share but­tons, when peo­ple use their Face­book ac­count to log into an­other web­site or app and Face­book ads and mea­sure­ment tools.

But he stressed the prac­tice was wide­spread, with com­pa­nies such as Google and Twit­ter also do­ing the same.

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