Did Facebook Go Too Far with Faces? Illinois Lawsuit Claims Violation

facebookIrritated by Facebook’s attempts to force you into tagging friends with names they already have figured out?

You’re not the only one.

Now a lawsuit claims Facebook “violated its users’ privacy to acquire the largest privately held stash of biometric face-recognition data in the world.”

Carlo Licata’s class action suit charges that Facebook began violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy act of 2008 in 2010, in a “purported attempt to make the process of tagging friends easier.”

“Through its “tag suggestions” program, Facebook scans all pictures uploaded by users and identifies any Facebook friends they may want to tag, according to the April 1 lawsuit in Cook County Court,” according to Courthouse News. “Facebook got its facial recognition technology from the Israeli company Face.com, which Facebook later bought. Face.com is not a party to the lawsuit.”

Licata claims Facebook’s actions are a “brazen disregard for its users’ privacy rights,” through which Facebook has “secretly amassed the world’s largest privately held database of consumer biometrics data.”

Even U.S. Senator Al Franken, among others, has criticized Facebook for this, notes the complaint.

“The company identifies Facebook friends in photos by scanning their faces, extracting facial feature data and comparing it against their “faceprint database,” or what it calls templates,” says Courthouse News. “But Licata claims Facebook “actively conceals” this from its users and “doesn’t disclose its wholesale biometrics data collection practices in its privacy policies, nor does it even ask users to acknowledge them.”

Licata contends that’s illegal in Illinois. That’s because the Illinois Biometrics Information Privacy Act “made it unlawful to collect biometric data without written notice to the subject stating the purpose and length of the data collection, and without obtaining the subject’s written release.”

Licata, with help from his attorney Jay Edelson, is asking the court for class certification and an injunction requiring Facebook to comply with the Illinois law, to “put a stop to its surreptitious collection, use and storage” of users’ biometric data.