Facebook loses first round of face recognition case
06 May 2016 13:59 GMT

Social media firm Facebook has lost the first round of a court case raised by a plaintiff who claims it has “unlawfully” collected and stored users’ biometric data derived from their faces in photographs.

A US judge on Thursday rejected a request by Facebook to toss out a civil suit accusing it of violating privacy laws in Illinois with face-recognition software.

A total of three plaintifs have filed lawsuits related to the technology under the auspices of the state's Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) – and all can US District Court Judge James Donato said on Thursday.

"The court accepts as true plaintiffs’ allegations that Facebook’s face recognition technology involves a scan of face geometry that was done without plaintiffs' consent," he said in the ruling.

It appeared that legislators in Illinois passed the act to address emerging biometric technology such as Facebook face-recognition software at issue in the case, according to the judge.

Claimants Frederick William Gullen has said he seeks “this action for damages and other legal and equitable remedies resulting from the illegal actions of Facebook in collecting, storing and using Plaintiff’s and other similarly situated individuals’ biometric identifiers … without informed written consent in violation of the BIPA”.

Gullen claims that Facebook’s tag feature is in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). Similar suit have been launched this year by the plaintiffs Carlo Licata, Adam Pezen and Nimesh Patel. Developed by Face.com, a company Facebook acquired, the tagging system uses facial recognition technology to recognize people in photos posted by users.

In January,a court in Illinois also denied a request by Shutterfly to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that its facial recognition-based photo tagging system violates the state’s BIPA.

Industry Events