Social media giant Facebook is slated to pay a massive $650 million fine to settle a privacy lawsuit. The ruling came out on Friday, February 26, 2021, as a judge ordered the social media company to pay as it was found in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
The Biometric Information Privacy Act was passed by the state of Illinois in 2008. It primarily serves to protect its citizens from the unlawful collection and use of biometric data. It is currently the only law in the whole of the United States that allows individuals to file lawsuits against violations or damages.
According to ZD Net, the class-action lawsuit was filed six years ago in 2015. The lawsuit reportedly claims that the social media giant used facial recognition software and facial markers to make suggestions when it comes to tagging people in images, therefore being found in direct violation of the Illinois BIPA.
In order for the Facebook Tag Suggestions feature to work, Facebook leveraged facial markers. Moreover, the company was also found to scan, store, and use the mined biometrics to create templates within their system. All of these are done without the knowledge and consent of users, notes ZD Net.
Based on the report of the Associated Press, around 1.6 million Facebook users will remain affected by the incidents. United States district judge James Donato, who approved the $650 million settlement, states that the fine levied against the social media network is one of the biggest privacy violation concerns.
In a statement, district judge Donato said, “It will put at least $345 into the hands of every class member interested in being compensated. [This is] a major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy.”
Apart from the $345 being given to those who signed up for representation, the three main plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit will be receiving around $5,000 each, reveals ZD Net.
In addition, Judge Donato also said, “Overall, the settlement is a major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy. The standing issue makes this settlement all the more valuable because Facebook and other big tech companies continue to fight the proposition that a statutory privacy valuation is a genuine harm.”
Tech Crunch reports that the Facebook Tag Suggestions feature has been disabled in 2019. According to the news site, this feature is now made into an option for users to partake in.