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Lawsuit alleges Facebook gathered unauthorized biometric data

Not very long after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced Congress regarding Facebook's poor handling of users' data as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company has now been accused of illicitly obtaining users' biometric information through the use of facial recognition technology.

In June 2011, Facebook introduced a feature in certain countries - the US being one of them - giving users the ability to automatically tag people in their photographs. In order to do this, Facebook would have to collect users' biometric data to ensure their facial recognition tech would work, triggering privacy concerns. Users sued in 2015 in a class-action lawsuit, which finally came into legal fruition earlier today, so to speak.

As part of initial legal procedure, the class of people filing this lawsuit has been legally defined as Facebook users "in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011". Getting this "class" approved is often a major hurdle, but if such a case is successful in court, compensations are directed towards this group of people.

Facebook got the case moved from Illinois to San Francisco, where Judge James Donato affirmed that a class-action lawsuit was the best path to a solution in this regard. The company issued a statement through a spokesman saying that the case had no merit, and would fight it vigorously. The company argues that users have always had the option to opt-out of this feature, saying:

"If you've never been tagged in a photo on Facebook or have untagged yourself in all photos of you on Facebook, then we do not have this summary information for you."

The company adds that the data it collects isn't covered by Illinois law, which explicitly prevents the collection of biometric data such as facial geometry, fingerprints and "voice prints".

Source: Reuters, Cnet

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