Facebook has agreed to pay $550 million to its users residing in Illinois to settle claims that its biometric tagging feature violated their privacy rights. Illinois currently has some of the strictest biometric privacy laws in all of the United States. The Illinois Biometric Privacy Act (BIPA) was established back in 2008 in order to protect consumers from having companies use their biometric information, such as retina, facial and fingerprint scans, without their consent. This lawsuit against the social media giant alleged that Facebook violated Illinois’ privacy law.
BIPA specifically states that employers or companies must obtain prior consent before using their biometric information and providing them with detailed information on how they plan to use it and how long it’ll be kept on file. It also allows private citizens to sue for damages. Facebook has agreed to settle this case after a five-year fight. Millions of Illinois users that could be affected will be notified if they are eligible to claim a portion of the settlement. On average, an affected user could stand to recover a couple of hundred dollars each. The settlement must still be approved by a federal court judge in San Francisco.
This settlement is a significant win for privacy support groups that firmly believe there is a real harm to having your biometric information stolen because unlike a credit card it cannot be changed when compromised. Due to the increase in biometric use, not only must companies utilize this information responsibly but consumers deserve to be compensated if their rights have been violated. If you live in Illinois and have any questions regarding your biometric privacy rights whether it is at work or as a consumer give Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP a call for a free phone consultation. We can be reached at (212) 300-0375 or you can request more information via our website.