In a blow to Facebook, the Supreme Court won’t decide whether or not people can sue the social media giant for using facial recognition technology on their photos without consent, according to reports.
The case, Facebook v. Patel, centers around the issue of whether Facebook broke the law in Illinois when it instituted a photo-tagging feature that honed in on users’ faces and tagged them against their will.
Because the high court rejected Facebook’s bid to review the case, Facebook is now facing a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit that alleges they’ve violated privacy laws.
Facebook’s defense in the matter has been that the users whose faces were tagged haven’t been able to prove that any harm or real-world consequence has come to them as a result. In their petition, they wrote that the users hadn’t shown a sign that they would have done anything differently if consent had been obtained.
Illinois‘ biometrics privacy law says that companies must obtain written consent before collecting information about users’ faces. Users can sue companies for up to $5,000 for each violation of this rule.
This is not the first time a business or corporation has bristled against the privacy law, and many have argued that no harm had come to the people suing them. The Supreme Court has thus far declined to take up the matter.
Last year, Ninth Circuit Court Judge Sandra Ikuta rebuked Facebook’s defense. She said that developing and using a facial recognition technology on people without telling them would be a violation of their privacy.
Facebook defended their technology, saying they’ve always given users the ability to turn it off. Last year, they also changed their entire system of automatic tagging and began asking users if they wanted to be tagged anytime their face appeared in an image.
This is only one of several controversies involving Facebook and potential privacy breaches. Last year, they also stopped using phone numbers for friend requests.