Judge: Class-action lawsuit against Facebook for using facial recognition may proceed

JD Lasica  Flickr

JD Lasica Flickr

Last month, Cook County sued Facebook and Cambridge Analytica - the data firm at the center of Facebook's most recent controversy regarding privacy and data collection - for violating an IL anti-fraud law when it gave users' data to third parties without permission.

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. Although it's no longer the peak social hub that it used to be, people use the site to tag their friends in memes or amusing posts, and to share photos. The law prohibits a private entity from selling, leasing, trading or otherwise profiting from a person's biometric information.

The lawsuit alleges that Facebook gathered biometric information without users' explicit consent. Both Verint and Terrogence have provided surveillance and spy technology to U.S. government bodies such as the NSA and the U.S. Navy as well as many other intelligence agencies.

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The feature suggests who might be present in uploaded photos, based on an existing database of faces. It is now unavailable in the United Kingdom, but has been a feature in the USA since 2011.

The LinkedIn profile of a former staffer at Terrogence described the employee's role at the company, stating that the employee "conducted public perception management operations on behalf of foreign and domestic governmental clients", and used "open source intelligence practices and social media engineering methods to investigate political and social groups".

It will also list a variety of active apps and websites if you have recently logged into them using Facebook. "It certainly is scary, but you should think that hacking is bad, not Facebook".

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"There is a worldwide movement to delete Facebook, not just due to their moves in the Philippines, but because also of privacy concerns", he added.

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Cobbe said she believes Facebook's implementation will fall afoul of GDPR, because it will have to scan every face in photos just to see if the photo subjects have consented to use of the tech.

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