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Facebook facial recognition lawsuit put on hold


Facebook Inc.’s attempts to evade legal action alleging it illegally collected biometric data using facial recognition software have been temporarily halted until the The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit makes its ruling in Spokeo, according to a report by Law 360.

Facebook had requested the California federal court to dismiss a class action suit brought by Illinois users alleging that the company’s facial recognition and tagging features violate Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, as well as to dismiss a related suit brought by non-user Frederick Gullen last June.

At the time, Facebook Inc. said the Illinois biometrics law preventing interstate-sharing of facial recognition data violates the U.S. Constitution ( In re Facebook Biometric Info. Privacy Litig. , N.D. Cal., No. 15-cv-03747, answer, 11/11/16 ).

The company had said that the plaintiffs have not met the requirements established in Article III of the Spokeo Inc. v. Robins case, in which the high court decided that the plaintiffs must allege a clear injury instead of simply stating a statutory violation in order to maintain standing.

However, the justices stopped short of applying their reasoning to Thomas Robins’ claims that the people search engine violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, instead remanding the action because the lower court conducted an incomplete injury analysis.

Facebook sought for dismissal under the Spokeo case when it appeared before the Ninth Circuit in December, however, the company will have to wait until the appeals court concludes the Spokeo case before it rules on Facebook’s motions, U.S. District Judge James Donato said.

“Given that the Ninth Circuit currently has the case under submission, the court finds it advisable to wait for the Ninth Circuit’s guidance on the Article III issues raised by defendant’s motions in these cases,” the judge said.

The Facebook users’ claims were initially raised in three separate suits before being consolidated into one proposed class action in September 2015.

The plaintiffs alleged that the company’s ‘tag suggestion’ feature violates BIPA by collecting and storing users’ “unique biometrics identifiers” data from their uploaded images without providing written notice or gaining consent from their users.

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