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After final approval in $650M biometric data privacy suit, Facebook seeks arbitration for Instagram

Proctoring company faces suit over data breach
After final approval in $650M biometric data privacy suit, Facebook seeks arbitration for Instagram

Facebook’s $650 million settlement of a biometric data privacy suit has been granted final approval in the Northern District of California, Law.com reports,

Judge James Donato had previously rejected a $550 million settlement as too light, but now finds the $345 per claimant award a “major win for consumers.” The new agreement also makes the face recognition feature available as an opt-in, rather than opt-out choice, and includes the deletion of some stored face biometric templates.

Jay Edelson of Edelson PC, co-lead plaintiffs counsel, claimed the award under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) is the largest privacy class action settlement ever.

Donato lowered the attorneys’ fees in the case from a proposed $110 million to $97.5 million, and approved a $915,454 expenses bill, but lowered the incentive award to the three named plaintiffs from $7,500 to $5,000.

Facebook’s outreach campaign has resulted in a claims rate of 22 percent, based on an estimated class of 6.9 million people, and Donato noted typically consumer class actions fall between 4 and 9 percent claims rates.

Checks will be in the mail in approximately two months, according to the Chicago Tribune, after a six year trial.

Instagram argues for arbitration

Instagram users in Illinois had to agree to the app’s terms of service three different times, each of which included arbitration agreements, Facebook says, and is has accordingly filed to compel arbitration in its biometric privacy suit, Bloomberg Law writes.

The three named plaintiffs agreed to the social media app’s terms of service in 2013, 2018, and again in 2020. The suit alleges the company only began informing its users that it was collecting biometric data last year.

Arbitration would be carried out on an individual basis.

Allegations against biometric proctor software begin to mount

Verificient Technologies, vendor of biometric remote test-monitoring software ProctorTrack is also being sued under BIPA, the Cook County Record reports.

The potential class action complaint, which could apply to up to 16,500 students, alleges a violation of BIPA Section 15(e), which relates to the proper storage, transmission and protection of biometric data, and cites a 2020 data breach suffered by the company.

Most alleged BIPA violations are of the informed consent requirements, like those above, though Clearview is being sued under the statutes data-sharing rules.

The suit is over ProctorTrack’s use by Loyola University Chicago, and closely follows another suit against Northwestern University for its use of proctoring software for online exams.

ProctorTrack uses face biometrics and behavior detection to identify academic cheating, the complaint says.

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