Facebook, Biometric Data, and Class Action

Most Facebook users have encountered a key feature of the social media service when uploading photos: suggested tags based on facial recognition (“Tag Suggestions”).¬†This feature has remained unchallenged until recently, when a class-action lawsuit was filed against the tech giant, claiming that key elements of this feature violate Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), a law enacted in 2008. The law, which was originally drafted by Illinois’ ACLU chapter, states that private entities collecting biometric information¬†(defined as “a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of hand or face geometry”) must provide public information about their data retention policy as well as guidelines for data¬†destruction. BIPA also prevents companies from selling or trading such information, and requires that they protect such data as they would other confidential or sensitive information.

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