Facebook, US social media platform, says it has agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class-action lawsuit regarding its use of facial recognition technology.
The settlement comes on the back of a federal lawsuit filed in Illinois in 2015 alleging that the social media giant violated a state law protecting residents’ biometric information.
Users in Illinois had sued Facebook for collecting facial recognition data to use in tagging photos, in a move that had allegedly violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.
Facebook’s $550 million settlement will be paid out to eligible Illinois users and to cover the plaintiffs’ legal fees, according to The New York Times.
In a statement on Wednesday, Jay Edelson, a lawyer whose firm represented the users in the facial recognition suit, said Facebook opted for settlement because the move was “in the best interest” of the social media giant’s community as well as its shareholders to move past the matter.
“Biometrics is one of the two primary battlegrounds, along with geolocation, that will define our privacy rights for the next generation,” he said.
The suit had alleged that the initial version of Facebook’s ‘tag suggestion’ tool, which scanned users’ faces in photos, stored biometric data without their consent.
The US multinational social media giant had, in September 2019, expanded its facial recognition technology as a replacement for its “tag suggestion” feature.
Amid privacy concerns, it had later announced that the feature would be automatically turned off for new and existing users by default unless they chose to activate it.
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