Facebook said it agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class action lawsuit over the use of facial reconnaissance in Illinois. This gave privacy groups an important win and raised further questions about the data mining practices of the social network.
This case was taken from Facebook’s Tag suggestions photo labeling service, which uses face-to-face software to identify people on photos of users. The case was against the Silicon Valley company by gathering tag facial data, without the consent and without asking them how long the data would be kept, breached an Illinoes bio-metric privacy legislation. The accusations have no basis, Facebook said.
Under the deal, Facebook will pay the qualifying Illinois users 550 million dollars and the legal fees of the plaintiffs. The amount is worth 380.5 million dollars which Equifax has agreed to pay in this months to settle a class action lawsuit for a consumer data breach in 2017.
As part of the quarterly financial statements, Facebook announced the deal and took responsibility for the case. The number was a rounding error on Facebook announcing revenue up from $7.3 billion by 25 percent, rising to $21 billion in the fourth quarter, compared to the previous year.
David Wehner, Facebook’s chief financial officer, noted in an earnings call with investors that the settlement added to the social network’s rising general and administrative costs, which increased 87 percent from a year ago.
“We decided to pursue a settlement as it was in the best interest of our community and our shareholders to move past this matter,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.
Facebook has been dogged by complaints over its use of facial recognition since 2010, when it rolled out Tag Suggestions as the default option for users. People could turn it off, but privacy experts said the company had neither obtained users’ opt-in consent for the technology nor explicitly informed them that it could benefit by, for instance, using scans of their photos to improve its face-matching technology.