Damages Could Cost Facebook Billions

Damages Could Cost Facebook Billions
Facebook faces allegations that it has collected biometric data about users without their consent.

(CCM) — Facebook has found itself in legal hot water after allegations that it gathered some users' biometric data without their explicit consent, according to a BBC report. As a result the company may have to pay out billions of dollars in statutory damages, the report says.

The data was collected to enable the company to use its facial recognition technology to provide "tag suggestions" when photographs are posted on the social network. This works by matching faces it spots in photographs with stored "face templates" which are created when a user is tagged in a photograph.

The company now faces a class action lawsuit from Facebook users in Illinois, because gathering biometric information without the consent of users breaches Illinois law, the lawsuit alleges.

Facebook's help pages indicate that it only holds biometric information for people who are tagged on photographs on its network. "If you've never been tagged in a photo on Facebook or have untagged yourself in all photos of you on Facebook, then we do not have this summary information for you," the company says.

For privacy reasons the "tag suggestions" features in not available in most countries, and users in the U.S. can turn it off in the social network's settings.

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