Zuckerberg’s two days of grilling by D.C. lawmakers had even faded from
the headlines, the company was back in the spotlight on Monday with a
federal judge’s ruling to allow a class action lawsuit against Facebook
over a facial recognition feature.
the damages could be in the billions.
to Reuters, U.S. District Judge James Donato ruled on Monday that a
suit against Facebook could proceed under class action status for
users in Illinois who sued the company in 2015 alleging Facebook was
violating a state law by collecting “biometric information.”
opens the way for individual users to sue as a group, substantially
increasing the potential penalties the company might have to face.
suit stems from the popular practice of “tagging” photos.
has for years encouraged users to tag people in photographs they
upload in their personal posts and the social network stores the
collected information. The company has used a program it calls
DeepFace to match other photos of a person. Alphabet Inc.’s
cloud-based Google Photos service uses similar technology and Google
faces a lawsuit in Chicago like the one against Facebook in San
Francisco federal court.”
his ruling, Donato wrote that “Facebook seems to believe that a class
action is not (warranted) because statutory damages could amount to
billions of dollars.”
he wrote “substantial damages are not a reason to decline Class
certification because it is within the Court’s discretion to reduce a
liquidated damages award with due process at a later stage of the
the damages could be substantial indeed. The Illinois law in question,
the Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2008, allows for damages up
to $5,000 for each time a person’s image is used without consent.