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Internet Association says Facebook BIPA suit could chill biometrics use

Internet Association says Facebook BIPA suit could chill biometrics use

The Internet Association has thrown its support behind Facebook in its ongoing BIPA lawsuit over the social media platform’s faceprint feature, MediaPost reports. The tech lobbying group says in documents filed with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that U.S. District Court Judge James Donato’s decision to allow the suit to be certified as a class action could discourage new biometric applications.

The appellate court is hearing arguments to reverse Donato’s decision, after Facebook received an emergency stay in May ahead of a proposed July trial date.

“Facial recognition technology can allow consumers to unlock their smartphones with a glance, streamline airport security screenings, and assist doctors in identifying rare genetic diseases,” the Internet Association writes. “If the technology is allowed to develop without legal barriers like that the Facebook suit would impose, it will also offer “uses that protect people, such as security cameras that can recognize strangers outside the home, fingerprint readers that prevent access to sensitive information, and facial recognition systems that can help locate missing children online.”

Facebook filed written arguments under seal last week, according to MediaPost.

“It is in no one’s interest that the lawful development and use of biometric technologies be artificially chilled,” the Internet Association argues.

The Internet Association’s actual legal argument is that the users are required to show injury for the suit to proceed.

“Technology companies, like the Association’s members, are frequently subject to opportunistic lawsuits claiming vast statutory damages without real-world harm,” the organization writes. “Plaintiffs here readily admit that they have suffered no physical, financial, or other tangible or intangible injury. And they make no claim that their alleged biometric data was used for any purpose other than to suggest tags to people they had chosen to connect with.”

Donato ruled earlier this year that the plaintiff’s “property interests” are sufficient to met the “concrete injury” standard set by the precedent of the Supreme Court’s Spokeo ruling, making them “aggrieved” under BIPA.

Plaintiffs in the case are expected to file their arguments by November 8.

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