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Facebook pays $550M to settle facial recognition privacy lawsuit

The settlement, which involves tagging photos, hasn't yet been approved by the judge.

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Facebook will settle for $550 million with users from Illinois who sued over alleged violations of facial recognition privacy laws.
Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook will create a cash fund of $550 million for its Illinois users who filed a lawsuit over its privacy practices, law firm Edelson PC said on Wednesday. The settlement came after Facebook was sued for collecting facial recognition data to use in tagging photos, which allegedly violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.

Tagging someone in a photo on Facebook creates a link to his or her profile, with the feature finally made opt-in by Facebook last year. Facebook's photo tag suggestions come from collecting facial recognition data from other photos.

"Biometrics is one of the two primary battlegrounds, along with geolocation, that will define our privacy rights for the next generation," Jay Edelson of Edelson PC said in an emailed release.

The case has been ongoing since 2015, and the settlement has yet to be approved by the judge in the case. Illinois is the only state to have biometric privacy laws that allow people to sue for damages if their rights are violated.

Facebook settled because "it was in the best interest of our community and our shareholders to move past this matter," the company said in an emailed statement.

Originally published Jan. 29, 4:37 p.m. PT.
Update, 4:51 p.m.: Adds comment from Facebook.