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Facebook to face class action lawsuit over its facial recognition technology

Facebook to face class action lawsuit over its facial recognition technology

A federal judge has just given the go-ahead for three IL users to file a class action lawsuit against the social network over its facial recognition systems.

The decision comes days after Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg faced intensive questioning by U.S. lawmakers over the company's collection and use of user data. Millions of social media users could potentially sue Facebook for violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2008 (BIPA) which holds a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 each time a user's photo is used without permission.

On Monday, Judge Donato ruled to certify a class of Facebook users - a key legal hurdle for a class action suit.

Facebook could have to pay billions of dollars in damages in a class action lawsuit over facial recognition, according to various reports.

In June 2011, Facebook introduced a feature in certain countries - the United States being one of them - giving users the ability to automatically tag people in their photographs. Facebook's photo-tagging function recognizes users' faces and suggests their names when they appear in photos uploaded by their friends.

U.S. District Judge James Donato ruled that the lawsuit can proceed as a class action representing potentially millions of Facebook users in IL. In his order, Donato wrote: "Facebook seems to believe ... statutory damages could amount to billions of dollars".

Donato previously rejected Facebook's argument that the case had to be dismissed because the attempt to enforce IL law runs afoul of its user agreement that requires disputes to be resolved under the laws of California, where it's based.

Facebook told Reuters that it "continue [s] to believe the case has no merit and will defend [itself] vigorously".

The facial recognition feature isn't now available in the UK.

Facebook also unsuccessfully contended that the consumers shouldn't be able to proceed as a class for numerous reasons, including that any injuries to consumers require individual determinations. Facebook switched the feature off in Europe in 2012 after an audit by Ireland's data watchdog.

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