Another week. Another lawsuit. It seems that Facebook are fighting legal battles on several hundred different fronts over the last couple of years.
At the same time Facebook are facing a class action lawsuit in Europe regarding their latest data policy, the world’s largest social networking site face yet another legal challenge, this time in the United States. Or more specifically, Illinois
And it’s over their controversial facial recognition program, which they use for their Tag Suggest feature. That’s the feature you were probably opted-in to without realising, whereby Facebook scans images of you that are uploaded to Facebook, and creates (& stores) biometric data concerning your face, so the site knows when new photos of you are uploaded in the future. This is so Facebook can “suggest” to your friends that it is you in the photos that they upload.
In the more privacy conscious Europe, the program was scratched in 2012 amid concerns from the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC).
However it still remains in countries like the US. If you’re outside Europe, it may be worth checking to see if you’re opted in. Simply click the down arrow at the top right of any page on Facebook and select Settings, then ‘Timeline & Tagging’ and then the section about managing tagging suggestions. The option “Who sees tag suggestions…” option will either by enabled, disabled or unavailable.
If you disable the feature, Facebook [should] delete the biometric data it has about you.
However according to Carlo Licata, lead plaintiff from Cook County in Illinois, Facebook have already broken the law by not providing him with written notification that his biometric data would be collected and stored. According to Licata, the facial recognition program was in violation of Illinois State Law, specifically the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2008. Licata also claims that Facebook failed to provide him with information regarding why his biometric data was being collected and how long it would be stored for.
Facebook have defended the program, claiming that the biometric information collected is useless to third party companies since it only works with their propriety software.
What do you think? Were you opted in to this feature? Did you know that Facebook were collecting biometric information about you? Let us know below.