Facebook, the social media giant, has recently made headlines with its $725 million settlement fund for US-based users who had their privacy rights violated. This settlement is the result of a class-action lawsuit filed in 2015 against Facebook for allegedly using facial recognition technology without users’ consent.
The lawsuit claimed that Facebook had collected biometric data, specifically facial recognition data, from users in Illinois without obtaining their explicit consent. Under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), companies are required to inform users about the collection and use of their biometric data and obtain their written consent before doing so.
The settlement fund is the largest of its kind for a privacy violation case and will be distributed to an estimated 1.6 million Facebook users in Illinois who were affected by the company’s use of facial recognition technology. The settlement was approved by a federal judge in the Northern District of California in February 2021.
Facebook has been under scrutiny for its handling of user data and privacy for several years, with multiple lawsuits and investigations into the company’s practices. This settlement represents one of the largest financial penalties Facebook has faced to date for a privacy violation.
To claim a share of the settlement fund, eligible users must submit a claim form by November 23, 2021. The amount each user receives will depend on the number of claims filed and the court’s final approval of the distribution plan. The settlement administrator has estimated that each user could receive between $200 and $400, but the final amount could be lower or higher depending on the number of claims filed.
In addition to the settlement fund, Facebook has also agreed to implement certain changes to its practices regarding the collection and use of biometric data. As part of the settlement, Facebook has agreed to obtain users’ written consent before collecting their biometric data, and to delete all biometric data collected through its facial recognition technology unless it obtains users’ consent to retain it.
This settlement serves as a reminder to all companies that collect and use biometric data to ensure they are in compliance with relevant laws and regulations. It also highlights the importance of transparency and obtaining user consent when handling sensitive personal information.
In conclusion, Facebook’s $725 million settlement fund for US-based users is a significant step towards holding companies accountable for violating users’ privacy rights. While the settlement amount is large, it is important to note that the true value of this settlement lies in the changes Facebook has agreed to make in its practices regarding the collection and use of biometric data. It is now up to other companies to learn from Facebook’s mistakes and ensure they are following best practices when handling sensitive personal information.