Facebook Loses Facial-Recognition Privacy Appeal

A federal appeals court this week rejected Facebook’s plea to throw out a privacy class action lawsuit regarding its facial recognition technology. The suit, filed in Illinois in 2015, accuses the social media giant of illegally collecting and storing users’ biometric data without their consent.

Facebook was originally sued under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which says that companies need to have a public policy before collecting facial scans and other biometric data. Now, the decision from the appeals court this week means Facebook will have to face the suit — and could potentially be required to pay billions of dollars in fines.

“This decision is a strong recognition of the dangers of unfettered use of face surveillance technology,” ACLU attorney Nathan Freed Wessler said in a statement. “The capability to instantaneously identify and track people based on their faces raises chilling potential for privacy violations at an unprecedented scale. Both corporations and the government are now on notice that this technology poses unique risks to people’s privacy and safety.”

For its part, Facebook said it plans to appeal the ruling. But with all of the privacy scandals currently plaguing the company, it’ll be interesting to see if it can garner any support at all.

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