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Facebook to Pay $550 Million in Biometric Privacy Accord

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Following claims that Facebook collected user biometric data without consent, the company agreed to pay $550 million to resolve such claims. According to Bloomberg, the accord, which requires a judge’s approval, will avert a trial that may have exposed the social networking company to billions of dollars in damages.

Facebook was unsuccessful in persuading the U.S. Supreme Court to derail the class action case. Users claimed that Facebook’s photo-scanning technology violated an Illinois law by “gathering and storing biometric data without their permission.” “We decided to pursue a settlement as it was in the best interest of our community and our shareholders to move past this matter,” Facebook said.

The New York Times reported that the case stemmed from Facebook’s photo-labeling service, Tag Suggestions. “The suit said the Silicon Valley company violated an Illinois biometric privacy law by harvesting facial data for Tag Suggestions from the photos of millions of users in the state without their permission and without telling them how long the data would be kept. Facebook has said the allegations have no merit,” said the report.

Jay Edelson, a lawyer whose firm represented Facebook users in the facial recognition suit, said the settlement underscored the importance of strong privacy legislation. “From people who are passionate about gun rights to those who care about women’s reproductive issues, the right to participate in society anonymously is something that we cannot afford to lose,” he said.

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