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  • Sahriar Shuvo - Tech Journalist

Facial recognition settlement for Facebook. Judge approves $650 million privacy class-action lawsuit

A US federal judge has approved the $650 million lawsuit settlement of Facebook to its users regarding biometric security. In the earlier days, Facebook implemented a feature that worked with AI. If you upload a photo with a friend or another person. AI runs its algorithm over it and recognises the person via a scanning database. Later it suggested that you can “tag” the person by name on the photo. It can trail the user profile via following the tagged name. While most of us liked the idea, the state of Illinois had a different view. They had a rule set for digital privacy. Any biometric registration or similar tracking must go through government approval before use. Total disclosure of such data and how it will be used. Though the feature by Facebook was a massive update for the user community, Facebook didn't check the US government policy of using authentic biometric features.

U.S. District Judge James Donato finally approved the settlement for $650 million. He said “It will put at least $345 into the hands of every class member interested in being compensated,” and added (it’s) “a major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy.”

It is the largest ever cash settlement for digital privacy. 1.6 million members of the class will be paid “as expeditiously as possible” and will get at least $345 each. Facebook described it as a “win-win” situation. They took it as a learning curve while giving something back to the class members. James Donato said it is a “landmark result” as customers win the settlement.

Facebook said, “We are pleased to have settled so we can move past this matter, which is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders.” The final approval said class members will have four options to get the payment in their account. These four are paper check, Zelle, PayPal, or direct deposit. Under rule 23(e)(2), after a hearing and only on finding that it is fair, reasonable, and adequate after considering a few facts. And under the same 23(e) rules, the course of denying the original proposed settlement, the Court challenged the parties to come up with forms of notice that fit the reality of our online lives.

It is great to hear that somewhere our rights to stay protected, even many of us want to but cannot, have a decent chance of doing so. It became a class-action lawsuit in 2018 after a privacy lawsuit for face-recognition or tagging and using biometric data filled in 2015. 1.6 million users who submitted the claim will be receiving a decent amount according to the hearing as the lawsuit passed. The state of Illinois has several biometric information privacy active acts and these are there to protect user’s online privacy. Before using any facial recognition, biometric, or fingerprint use, every company has to go through the process. The case became an iconic model and eventually became a class-action in California. The lawsuit changed how Facebook uses the tagging system.

Users have the right to know, confront and agree if they want their data to be scrapped and used in this manner. It protects basic digital privacy. A company that is as successful as Facebook made the mistake of not taking these sensitive matters more seriously. The biometric privacy measures are not going anywhere soon.





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