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Facebook could face billions in potential damages as court rules facial recognition lawsuit can proceed
Facebook is facing exposure to billions of dollars in potential damages as a federal appeals court on Thursday rejected Facebook’s arguments to halt a class action lawsuit claiming it illegally collected and stored the biometric data of millions of users. The class action lawsuit has been working its way through the courts since 2015, when Illinois Facebook users sued the company for alleged violations of the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act by automatically collecting and identifying people in photographs posted to the service. Now, thanks to an unanimous decision from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the lawsuit can proceed. The most significant language from the decision from the circuit court seems to be this: We conclude that the development of face template using facial-recognition technology without consent (as alleged here) invades an individual’s private affairs and concrete interests. Similar conduct is actionable at common law. The American Civil Liberties Union came out in favor of the court’s ruling. “This decision is a strong recognition of the dangers of unfettered use of face surveillance technology,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, in a statement. “The capability to instantaneously identify and track people based on their faces raises chilling potential for privacy violations at an unprecedented scale. Both corporations and the government are now on notice that this technology poses unique risks to people’s privacy and safety.” As April Glaser noted in “Slate”, Facebook already may have the world’s largest database of faces, and that’s something that should concern regulators and privacy advocates. “Facebook wants to be able to certify identity in a variety of areas of life just as it has been trying to corner the market on identify verification on the web,” Siva Vaidhyanathan told Slate in