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Facebook Facial Recognition Lawsuit Trial Date Set for July
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Summary: A San Francisco judge ruled that Facebook must go to trial because of its facial recognition software database. 

Facebook was sued in 2015 for allegedly violating users’ rights by keeping people’s pictures in a facial recognition database without their consent.  A year later, a San Francisco judge ruled that the case could not be dismissed, and on Monday, the judge made the same ruling, according to The Register. 


The Register said that this case will test Illinois’ 2008 Biometric Information Privacy Act, and Judge James Donato said the trial will take place July 9.

In May of 2015, plaintiffs Nimesh Patel, Adam Pezen and Carlo Licata filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook when they learned the powerful social media platform was harvesting pictures of its users’ faces to analyze them with facial recognition software. Facebook did not obtain permission to do so.

When requesting a dismissal, Facebook said that users did not suffer injury beyond the BIPA’s outlining of invasion of privacy, but Judge Donato disagreed.

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“BIPA does not require additional proof of individualized “actual” harm, and so the question of whether Facebook is liable can be decided in “one stroke” for the class as a whole without a likelihood that individualized inquiries would overwhelm commonality and predominance,” Donato wrote.

Donato said that a jury should decide on this case’s fate. This is the first case that will test BIPA, which bans taking and storing biometric data without explicit consent. BIPA defines biometric data as a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of hand or face geometry.

In its May 2016 dismissal request, Facebook said that it was not in violation of California law, the governing state in its user agreement. Donato said that this was incorrect and that Illinois law can apply in this case.

“Facebook’s facial recognition program cannot be understood to have occurred wholly outside Illinois. The same rather metaphysical arguments about where BIPA was violated fare no better when re-packaged under the dormant commerce clause,” Donato said.

This is not the only privacy allegations lobbed at Facebook. Facebook came under fire this year when it was learned that a third-party, Cambridge Analytica, sold user data to the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign without their knowledge. Millions of people were affected, and the scandal prompted the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices.

In May, another privacy lawsuit was filed in California by John Condeles III, according to CBS. The plaintiff stated that Facebook collected text and call data from his phone after he downloaded an app. He is seeking class-action status as well.

What do you think about Facebook’s privacy practices? Let us know in the comments below.


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