Journal of Information & Privacy Law

Class Action Lawsuit: Facebook’s Use of Facial Recognition Software Violates Illinois Law

By Sean Knoll, Staff Editor 2015 on Thursday, April 9th, 2015
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An Illinois man has filed a lawsuit against Facebook regarding the facial recognition software Facebook uses to give users “tag suggestions” for photos posted on the social media site.[1]  When a Facebook user view photos of his or her friends, an option appears asking the user if he or she wants to “tag” his or her friend(s) in the photo.  By tagging someone in a photo, the photo then appears on the tagged person’s Facebook timeline (subject to any restrictions the tagged person has implemented).  Face.com, an Israeli company acquired by Facebook in 2012, provided the technology that enables the tag suggestions option.[2]

Carlos Licata, the lead plaintiff for the class-action lawsuit, cites privacy as a major concern with the facial recognition software.[3]  The tag suggestions process includes Facebook collecting and storing its users’ biometric data.[4]  Licata alleges that Facebook violated Illinois law by not providing him written notice of the collection and storage process.[5]  Licata’s attorney also mentioned concerns about hackers accessing the stored biometric data.[6]  Facebook views the suit as meritless.[7]  However, it is worth noting that Facebook abandoned the tag suggestions feature in Europe in 2012 due to privacy concerns.[8]



[1] Tony Briscoe, Suit: Facebook Facial Recognition Technology Violates Illinois Privacy Laws, Chicago Tribune (Apr. 1, 2015), http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-facebook-facial-recognition-lawsuit-met-story.html.

 

[2] Cale Guthrie Weissman, Facebook is being Sued for Amassing the World’s Stash of Facial-Recognition Data, Business Insider (Apr. 6, 2015), http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-biometric-program-2015-4.

 

[3] Id.

 

[4] Tony Briscoe, Suit: Facebook Facial Recognition Technology Violates Illinois Privacy Laws, Chicago Tribune (Apr. 1, 2015), http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-facebook-facial-recognition-lawsuit-met-story.html.

 

[5] Id.

 

[6] Id.

 

[7] Cale Guthrie Weissman, Facebook is being Sued for Amassing the World’s Largest Stash of Facial-Recognition Data, Business Insider (Apr. 6, 2015), http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-biometric-program-2015-4.

 

[8] Somini Sengupta & Kevin J. O’Brien, Facebook Can ID Faces, But Using Them Grows Tricky, NY Times (Sept. 21, 2012), http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/22/technology/facebook-backs-down-on-face-recognition-in-europe.html?_r=0.

 

 

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