When you tag your friends in a Facebook photo, the website can usually guess who’s standing next to you with a click or two. But an ongoing lawsuit contends the data Facebook uses to make those suggestions might be illegally collected.
A San Francisco judge allowed that lawsuit to proceed Thursday, after the plaintiffs argued Facebook did not explicitly ask users for permission to collect data on their faces for its photo-tagging tool. Facebook includes information on its collection of biometric data in its terms of service, but the lawsuit said that’s not clear enough.
U.S. District Judge James Donato agreed in his ruling that “Facebook's face recognition technology involves a scan of face geometry that was done without plaintiffs' consent,” citing a 2008 Illinois law that forbids gathering biometric data without consent.
Lawyers for Facebook had argued that the information about the data collection was shared with users and that the website did not violate the Illinois law because it only pulled data from photographs, according to CNBC.
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Facebook declined to comment on the decision. The company started rolling out its facial recognition technology for tagging photos in 2010, using the data collected to identify possible people in photos. Users can opt out of the photo-tagging tool if they choose to do so.
Other companies, including Google, have adopted similar technology and Google was sued in March over its own face recognition software, the International Business Times reported.
Read the judge’s decision to allow the Facebook lawsuit to proceed: