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Facebook to face class action lawsuit over facial recognition

Federal judge rules class action is the most efficient way to resolve dispute over the creation and storing of "face templates" in uploaded photos.

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Lawsuit accuses Facebook of violating a 2008 Illinois law that prohibits companies from collecting and storing the biometric data of people without their consent.

Facebook

Facebook will have to face a class action lawsuit alleging it illegally violated users' privacy by using a facial recognition process on photos without explicit consent.

US District Judge James Donato ruled Monday in San Francisco federal court that the lawsuit could progress with class action certification, finding the process will provide the most efficient resolution of the dispute over creating and storing of "face templates" based on facial features in uploaded photos.

A Facebook spokesperson said the company is "reviewing the ruling" and continues to believe "the case has no merit."

The ruling is the latest in a mounting number of privacy headaches suffered in recent weeks by the social-networking giant since it disclosed that Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy affiliated with the Trump campaign, had improperly accessed the personal data of about 87 million Facebook users.

Facebook has used facial recognition technology on photos posted to the site since 2010 to automatically detect and put names to faces. But the lawsuit alleges the feature violates Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act, a 2008 law that prohibits companies from collecting and storing the biometric data of people without their consent.

Facebook, which got the case moved to San Francisco from Illinois, argues that the data it collects isn't covered by the Illinois law, which restricts collection of consumers' fingerprints, "voice prints" and scans of "hand or face geometry." Facebook has also noted that users can opt out of the feature.

Cambridge Analytica: Everything you need to know about Facebook's data mining scandal.iHate: CNET looks at how intolerance is taking over the internet.