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Facebook Facing $35B Fine Over Facial Recognition Lawsuit

Facebook Facing $35B Fine Over Facial Recognition Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit against Facebook, alleging that people in Illinois didn’t consent to have their photos used with the company’s facial recognition technology, will move forward despite Facebook’s efforts to halt it.

Facebook lost its latest appeal, which was to have its case heard en banc, or by the complete panel of ninth circuit judges, in the hopes that it could put an end to the case, TechCrunch reported. As long as the Supreme Court doesn’t intercede, the case will go to trial.

Facebook started the facial recognition technology in 2011, when it would ask users to identify if people tagged in photos were friends they knew.

The contention is about permission and a lack of information about how the photos would be used. Facebook is potentially facing fines between $1,000 and $5,000 for every penalty, and there are 7 million people involved, so the total could reach as much as $35 billion.

A panel of three judges denied Facebook’s appeal. One of the judges said it “seems likely” Facebook’s technology could be used to identify a person in surveillance situations, or even unlock phones that use biometric technology.

“Facebook has always told people about its use of face recognition technology and given them control over whether it’s used for them,” the company said in a statement. “We are reviewing our options and will continue to defend ourselves vigorously.”

Facebook has indeed been fighting the case, which was filed in 2015, vigorously. It has objected to the class classification of the case, argued about the definitions of words, and lobbied against the Biometric Information Privacy Act.

The last large settlement paid by Facebook was a $5 billion fine to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for violating a consent decree. Facebook’s revenue last year was $55 billion.

The company has been facing more and more data privacy requirements and calls for greater transparency in terms of how it uses and collects data.

News of the potential penalty saw the company’s share price drop 2.25 percent.

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