California judge allows Illinois Facebook lawsuit to proceed

AP News
|
Posted: May 11, 2016 4:06 PM

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge in California has ruled that three Illinois men can proceed with their class-action lawsuit challenging Facebook's facial recognition software used to identify people in uploaded photos.

Adam Pezen, Carlo Licata and Nimesh Patel, all of the Chicago area, separately sued the social media giant last year, the Chicago Tribune reported (http://trib.in/1USAw5s ). The cases were combined and transferred last summer to the Northern District of California court.

The men allege that Facebook was illegally collecting biometric data from people "tagged" in photos posted by other users and that its use of facial recognition software violates Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act.

In 2008, Illinois enacted the Biometric Information Privacy Act to regulate how individuals, companies and organizations can collect and use biometric data, which determine a person's identity based on unique biological or physical characteristics. According to the law, no private entity can gather and keep a person's biometric information without prior notification to and written permission from that person.

The trio argues that they never gave permission to Facebook to collect their biometric information when someone "tagged" them in a photo, which allows the software to memorize their facial features and prompt users to identify them in other images.

Facebook argues that Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act doesn't apply to scanning photos and that its terms of use establish that California law would apply to any dispute that a user has with the service.

Judge James Donato ruled May 5 that the men made a valid complaint and can continue to trial. He denied Facebook's motions to dismiss the case.

Facebook declined to comment on the lawsuit but said users are able to disable the "tag suggestions" feature on their profiles at any time.

A conference for the case will be held next month.

___

Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com