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Facebook has lost a federal appeal Thursday in a lawsuit over facial-recognition data. That would result in the company paying huge fines and penalties over the privacy practices.
The tech giant was followed in the year 2015, under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which mandates that companies have to make public policy on the collection and storage of biometric data including facial scans — and to explain how the data will be stored. The CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, the company has used the technology in its photo-tagging feature that can tell whether or not an image of the user’s friends.
The suit alleged that Facebook does not meet the law requirements. Facebook, for its part, has said that the plaintiffs failed to show injury, and in the lower right of the assets the certificate to be the case.
In its 3-0 decision, the court of appeal did not agree with Facebook.
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“We believe that the development of a facial template to facial recognition technology without consent, as alleged here on an individual to violate their own issues and specific interests,” the judge wrote in his decision, had to send it back to the lower court for further proceedings.
The Biometric Privacy Act allows for the payment of $1,000 to $5,000 per violation. According to Reuters, the class to be able to millions of Facebook users, which means that the social network could be forced to pay out billions of dollars worth of damage, and if it eventually loses the case.
“We’re going to have to seek a further review of the decision,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge. “We have always disclosed the use of face-recognition technology, and that you will be able to turn it on or off at any time.”
The company will seek a further review by the full court of appeals, and the case could be made to the Supreme Court, and the technology news web site reported.
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Privacy advocates cheered the decision.
“This decision is a strong recognition of the dangers associated with uncontrolled use of the face of the control technology,” Nathan Freed Wessler, an attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, said in a statement. “The ability to instantly identify and track people based on their faces and shouts of cooling potential for privacy violations on an unprecedented scale.”
The use of facial-recognition technology has been criticized by activists and prompted a two-pronged backlash, with several cities, including Oakland, alameda, and San Francisco, and the passage of measures to ban the use of all.
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