The decision by a U.S. district judge means the company could be sued by millions of USA users. Damages could be steep - a fact that wasn't lost on the judge, who was unsympathetic to Facebook's arguments for limiting its legal exposure.
The class-action lawsuit could result in Facebook paying billions of dollars in damages. Among others, the company says its photo-tagging feature isn't covered by the IL law, because Facebook doesn't have servers in IL.
Facebook, which got the case moved to San Francisco from IL, argued the users hadn't suffered a concrete injury such as physical harm, loss of money or property; or a denial of their right to free speech or religion.
The suit alleges that the company's facial recognition features violate an IL privacy act by storing biometric info without users' explicit consent.
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"If you've never been tagged in a photo on Facebook or have untagged yourself in all photos of you on Facebook, then we do not have this summary information for you."
U.S. District Judge James Donato ruled that the lawsuit can proceed as a class action representing potentially millions of Facebook users in IL. Facebook seems to believe that a class action is not superior because statutory damages could amount to billions of dollars. Violations of BIPA typically incur a fine of between $1,000 to $5,000. If the suit is successful, every person in the class-action could receive a payout.
Donato previously rejected Facebook's argument that the case had to be dismissed because the attempt to enforce IL law runs afoul of its user agreement that requires disputes to be resolved under the laws of California, where it's based.
Facebook has stated that they are reviewing the ruling saying, "We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously".
The company is now trying to roll out facial recognition technology inside the European Union again, according to the Irish Times, but on an opt-in basis.