The social network’s face-recognition software has been sued again and to add salt to their wounds, privacy groups also have issued warnings.
It does sound hilarious and somewhat exaggerated, but it is true that a class-action lawsuit has been filed by Illinois residents against Facebook Inc., for the fourth time this year.
The bone of contention happens to be the social network’s creepy face-recognition software. The residents believe that this software violates the Biometric Information Privacy Act of the state. The latest complaint was filed on Monday.
Currently, federal regulations for “biometric data” are non-existent; however, states like Texas and Illinois have regulated laws that govern the gathering of facial data. For instance, the Biometric Information Privacy Act was passed by Illinois way before most tech firms, that is, in 2008.
Illinois’ ACLU legislative director Mary Dixon said that
“I think we were ahead of the curve; I think it’d be hard to pass similar initiatives now given the intense lobby against some of the protections we were able to advance.”
Facebook has a massive following with around 1.5billion active users from around the world and this means Facebook has the world’s largest “faceprints” database as well. Faceprints are basically digital scans containing the unique geometric patterns of the users’ faces.
According to the social network spokesperson, this software is used to automatically recommend photo tags whenever a user uploads their new photo on Facebook. What happens is that a numeric value is calculated by an algorithm, which is based on the unique facial features of a user.
If Facebook sources are to be believed, this feature only helps in expanding the connectivity level of its users. However, civil rights advocates and privacy groups think otherwise. They state that face-recognition technology generates uniquely sensitive data and this, requires exclusive safeguards so that it doesn’t end up in the hands of private firms.
The founding executive of Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy & Technology, Alvaro M. Bedoya, stated:
“You can’t turn off your face. Yes, it’s 2015, and yes, we’re tracked in a million different ways, but for most of those forms of tracking, I can still turn it off if I want to.”
Facebook and it’s privacy issues:
Facebook has a history of news stories where organizations, citizens and privacy advocates have sued the social media giant for invading their privacy. These lawsuits and privacy invasions are not limited to the United States but also in Europe.
The social media giant was taken to court by Belgium’s Privacy Commission (BPC) where it was slammed for spying on non-users and the tracking system that was being utilized by the company.
How Good Is Facebook’s Facial Recognition?
In April 2015, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the company, claiming that the Facebook’s data-collection program titled automatic face-tagging feature has helped Facebook create “the largest privately held stash of biometric face-recognition data in the world.”