Facebook offers $650 million to settle facial recognition suit

Facebook feed page is displayed on a smartphone

Facebook offered $650 million to pay a long-running class-action lawsuit about the use of facial technology. 

The final offer is $100 million more than the initial settlement, according to USA Today, and follows a rejection of the initial amount by a U.S. district judge earlier this year

“We are focused on settling as it is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders to move past this matter,” Facebook said in a statement.

The case centers around three Illinois residents who sued the social media company under a state law called the Biometric Information Privacy Act, permitting residents to sue if their faces have been scanned for data without written consent.

The residents claim that Facebook’s built-in feature — which suggests people and friends’ names in users’ photos automatically — is a violation of the privacy act.

In January, the initial settlement offer was set at $550 million and would have resulted in payouts of $150 to $300 per person in Illinois that is affected by the facial recognition technology. However, California U.S. District Judge James Donato said the payment was incredibly underwhelming. 

“It’s $550 million. That’s a lot. But the question is, is it really a lot?” Donato asked, according to NPR.  

The law firms representing Facebook users called the agreement at the time the largest cash settlement ever to stem from a privacy-related lawsuit.

The type of facial recognition software found on Facebook’s platform has generated more controversy amid protests over police brutality. Companies such as Amazon, IBM and Microsoft have made strides to suspend or limit law enforcement’s access to the technology.

Tags Biometric Information Privacy Act Facebook Facial recognition system Internet privacy Surveillance

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