Mark Zuckerburg’s Facebook takes another hit of legal action and has recently assented to pay $650 million, which is $100 million higher than the amount initially offered, to settle a class-action lawsuit that has been running for a long time, with the issue of its use of facial recognition technology.
“We are focused on settling as it is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders to move past this matter,” Facebook mentioned in a statement.
The lawsuit started when three Illinois residents filed a case against the company under state law, the Biometric Information Privacy Act, 2008 that permits individuals who have had their faces scanned for data without written consent to sue the perpetrator.
The lawsuit, which was classified as a class action, was filed due to the gathering of facial data for a Facebook feature that proposes the name of people in users’ photos and that could have potentially exposed Facebook to billions of dollars in damages.
Facial recognition software is privy of even more controversy in the rise of the countrywide demonstrations over police brutality. Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM are stopping or limiting law enforcement’s usage of their technology, which misidentifies African Americans many times and this also includes other people of color.
Facebook's initially proposed a settlement offer of $550 million in January 2020 that would have resulted in payouts of between $150 to $300 a person, in the lawsuit. This was said to be, by the law organizations appearing on behalf of the Facebook users, as the highest cash settlement ever given to come to a resolution of a privacy related lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge James Donato of California denied this offer and termed it as too insignificant. "It's $550 million. That's a lot. But the question is, is it really a lot?"Donato asked the advocates for both sides in a hearing in the court in July 2020, as said by a transcript that was reviewed by NPR. He also added that Facebook has received a 98 percent discount off of the sum that the state legislature said might be due in when a case is proved.
Illinois inhabitants have also filed a homogenous case with reference to other tech companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, that are also accountable for violating the state's biometric privacy law. The case against Microsoft claims that in its endeavor to better its facial recognition technology the technology giant has broken the state's Biometric Information Privacy Act by illegally acquiring information of users and this was done without their consent.