Facebook admits data failings as chiefs face questions from TDs

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Judge James Donato ruled the claims by IL residents Nimesh Patel, Adam Pezen, and Carlo Licata were "sufficiently cohesive to allow for a fair and efficient resolution on a class basis".

A U.S. federal judge has ruled that Facebook must face a class action lawsuit alleging that the social network unlawfully used a facial recognition process on photos without user permission.

The legal move on Monday comes as Facebook has come under scrutiny for how it handles users data, particularly after revelations that consulting firm Cambridge Analytica harvested up to 87 million people's information, many without consent.

A Facebook spokeswoman told AFP the company was reviewing the decision, adding: "We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously".

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The company adds that the data it collects isn't covered by IL law, which explicitly prevents the collection of biometric data such as facial geometry, fingerprints and "voice prints". Given that, should it lose the case, Facebook could face a fine of between $1,000 (£700) and $5,000 each time a person's image is used without their consent, under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2008, it's clear that this could be a very costly day in court for Facebook.

Lawsuit accuses Facebook of violating a 2008 IL law that prohibits companies from collecting and storing the biometric data of people without their consent.

Following a successful test in December 2010, the function rolled out worldwide the next summer, making it easier for users to tag Facebook friends in photos.

What does the facial recognition do?

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The plaintiffs say Facebook's creation and storing of face templates for automatic photo-tagging purposes is prohibited under BIPA.

Facebook could have to pay billions of dollars in damages in a class action lawsuit over facial recognition, according to various reports. The Electronic Privacy Information Center has called on the FTC to investigate Facebook's facial recognition practices since 2011.

Facebook's motion to dismiss the lawsuit was rejected in May 2016.

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