A federal judge gave his final approval for a $650 million settlement in the Facebook class action lawsuit where it alleges that the tech giant illegally stored customers’ biometric data.
They made the final approval near February’s ending, and Judge James Donato decided on a case that took over five years.
The lawsuit settlement is one of the biggest ever for violation of privacy, and it will have each class member get $345 according to the order.
Chicago attorney Jay Edelson first sued Facebook in Cook County Circuit Court in 2015.
The lawsuit claimed that the platform’s use of facial recognition tagging is not allowed under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
The Reason for the Lawsuit
The case alleges that the social media platform was getting facial data by using a feature that Facebook offers, which allows people to tag themselves in photos other people took.
How it works is that, once someone enables facial recognition, any photo on the platform that Facebook recognizes your facial structure, the platform will notify and ask you if you’d like to tag yourself.
It also works both ways; that is, once you upload a photo and it recognizes someone on your friend list, Facebook will ask you if you’d like to tag them as well.
Initially, the offer would have netted $250 to $300 for each class member, but it was revised to where each member will get $200 to $400.
It would have been more if the case went to trial; Facebook would have shelled out more than a billion dollars under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.
The revised filing states that the plaintiffs and class counsel strongly believe their Facebook privacy claims have value and that they can win at trial and for any appeals.
They know that the platform raised relevant and legal defenses that may pose a risk to the class suit.
The lawsuit also may risk obstacles to an aggregate recovery for the class issues of law and be reviewed on appeal after the plaintiffs won the case.
Facebook has denied that they did anything wrong and believes it would win at any trial on the merits.
Although the company has concluded, the settlement was agreeable to lessen wasting time, risk, and cost of defending protracted litigation and to avoid the risk posed by the Class’s claims for damages.
The class member’s facial recognition setting in the platform will be turned off within 3 months of the effectivity date and remove any existing face templates unless Facebook gets express consent from the account holder within 180 days.
Once a user allows Facebook to save their face templates, they should receive information on how the templates will be used.
The platform will also remove face templates of class members who did not have any Facebook activity for three years as of the effective date without going through the same approval process.
These are not required for Facebook users who registered for the platform after the 3rd of September 2019 or who enabled facial recognition through Facebook settings.
Settlements are expected to be paid within 60 days of the effectivity date to class members who submit a claim form.
Who is eligible for the claim?
Facebook users in Illinois for whom Facebook has created and stored a face template since the 7th of June, 2011.
Eligible users should also have lived in Illinois for at least six months.
1,571,608 claim forms were filed mid-December, according to the judge, and that there are 6.5 million potential members in the class.
Editor’s Note on Facebook BIPA Class Action Settlement:
This feature is an update of the latest settlement in the Facebook BIPA class action lawsuit filed for illegally storing users Biometric data.
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