Facebook must face a class action lawsuit over its use of facial recognition technology, a California judge has ruled. "We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously", the company said in a statement. On Monday, US District Judge James Donato ruled that the lawsuit can proceed as a class action, meaning any person in a defined group can be entitled to compensation.
The ruling on Monday by a United States federal judge in California comes as the social network is snared in a scandal over the mishandling of 87 million users' data ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs could not immediately be reached for comment.
Face signatures are then run through a stored database of user face templatesto look for similar matchesOn its help pages, Facebook says the face templates are made from information about the similarities in every photo the user has been tagged in.
Facebook violated an IL state law by improperly using their photo-scanning and facial recognition technologies and storing biometric data without their users' consent, a federal judge in California ruled on Monday, after reviewing a 2015 claim made against Facebook by three IL plaintiffs. Facebook is creating and storing "face templates" based on facial characteristics found in photos.
June 2011 was the date on which Facebook rolled out its "tag suggestions" feature.
In the United States court system, certification of a class is typically a major hurdle that plaintiffs in proposed class actions need to overcome before reaching a possible settlement or trial. Facebook successfully requested that the case be moved from IL to San Francisco and its defense appears to be that the IL law is all about the use of biometric data such as fingerprints, retina and iris scans, voice prints, and scans of peoples' hands and faces.
The lawsuit was originally filed in mid-2015 but has been repeatedly kicked down the road with Facebook attempting to have the case dismissed.
But he stressed the practice was widespread, with companies such as Google and Twitter also doing the same.