Facebook’s use of the output of its facial recognition software—imagery of individuals’ faces—without those individuals’ prior permission can be contested in court, according to the Ninth Circuit. Facebook had demurred when the case was brought.
On Thursday, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected Facebook’s efforts to dismiss the ongoing class-action lawsuit, which could potentially require the company to pay billions in compensation.
The lawsuit dates back to 2015 when three Facebook users living in the state [Illinois] claimed the tech giant had violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires companies to obtain consent when collecting their biometric information.
Judge Sandra Ikuta, writing for the court, wrote:
We conclude that the development of a face template using facial-recognition technology without consent (as alleged here) invades an individual’s private affairs and concrete interests.
Yewbetcha. However, the courts, ultimately, the Supreme Court, need, in the end, to rule decisively that no company gets to steal a man’s personally identifying information—which his face assuredly is in this day of highly accurate facial recognition software—and theft is what it is when the data are taken without permission.
It’s even worse when these data, these facial recognition image outputs, are monetized for the benefit of the company in question with that done behind the individuals’ backs, too.