Facebook users won a major privacy victory this week, with a federal judge giving final approval to a $650 million settlement over the platform’s use of facial recognition technology.
The class-action suit, filed in Illinois in 2015, involved 1.6 million users in the state. The dispute was over Facebook’s photo-tagging feature, which allowed Facebook to store users’ biometric data, meaning digital scans of their faces. The suit alleged that this violated Illinois privacy law — and with this massive settlement, it would appear that Facebook knows it probably won’t win if the case continues.
The judge in the case, James Donato, called the settlement “a landmark result” that represents a “major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy.” He also went on to say that it is one of the largest settlements ever for a privacy violation, with each plaintiff set to receive at least $345 in compensation.
While this suit only directly benefits Facebook users in Illinois, it provides an encouraging template for similar cases moving forward. In places with strong privacy legislation, it proves that Facebook can easily be held accountable for its actions — and users stand to reap the benefits.
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