Facebook could pay another multibillion-dollar fine over facial recognition

Facebook could have to pay yet another multibillion-dollar fine after losing an appeals court decision on Thursday regarding the company’s use of facial recognition data. 

The 3-0 decision against the social media giant in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was over a 2015 class action lawsuit that claimed the company violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, according to court documents.

The Illinois law requires a company’s disclosure when it uses biometric data, which includes face scanning. Facebook used facial recognition technology in its tag suggestions feature, which recognized people’s faces in photos and suggested you tag their profiles, without user consent. 

“We conclude that the development of a face template using facial-recognition technology without consent (as alleged here) invades an individual’s private affairs and concrete interests,” the court stated in Thursday’s decision. 

According to Reuters, Facebook could end up paying yet another hefty fine — potentially billions of dollars — if the decision stands, since the facial recognition violation could have affected millions of users. However, Facebook isn’t giving up that easily. 

“We plan to seek further review of the decision,” a Facebook spokesperson told Digital Trends in an email. “We have always disclosed our use of face recognition technology and that people can turn it on or off at any time.” 

A Facebook spokesperson also told The Verge that they would seek further review and could even take the case to the Supreme Court. 

This is the second time Facebook has come under fire for its use of facial recognition technologies without letting its users know. Last month, a $5 billion settlement between Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was partially focused on the same technology. 

According to the FTC, Facebook, “was deceptive to tens of millions of users who have Facebook’s facial recognition setting called ‘Tag Suggestions’ because that setting was turned on by default, and the updated data policy suggested that users would need to opt-in to having facial recognition enabled for their accounts.”

The $5 billion settlement was the largest fine in FTC history. The same day of the FTC settlement, Facebook was also hit with a $100 million fine from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), this time, for the misuse of users’ information. 

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