Facebook has increasingly come under fire for its data collection practices, particularly as it relates to the company’s facial recognition tech. Now the social media giant lost another major battle this week in a $35 billion class action lawsuit that guarantees the case will go to trial unless the Supreme Court intervenes.
The suit, which originated in the state of Illinois, alleges that users didn’t consent to having their pictures scraped for data by Facebook. It also said that users didn’t know how long their data would be stored when Facebook introduced the tech in 2011.
“This biometric data is very sensitive. It’s as unique as a fingerprint,” attorney Shawn Williams said in August when the case cleared another bar to proceed. “Our view is that the violation occurred immediately when Facebook applied its facial recognition technology to the photos… That happens when people upload their photos.”
For its part, Facebook denies any wrongdoing and has vowed to fight the litigation.
“Facebook has always told people about its use of face recognition technology and given them control over whether it’s used for them,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We are reviewing our options and will continue to defend ourselves vigorously.”
Though this case started out as a long shot, it’s becoming increasingly likely that Facebook will have to answer for itself in court. Regardless of the outcome, that’s a good thing for user privacy.
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