Facebook Must Face Photo-Tagging Suit

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Facebook lost a motion to dismiss claims that it unlawfully collected and stored users' biometric data, according to Bloomberg.

At issue is the social network's photo-tagging system, which automatically matches names to faces in images uploaded to the site. Three Illinois residents sued Facebook for allegedly violating their privacy by not asking permission to use their faces as biometric identifiers.

The company introduced facial recognition in 2010 in an effort to speed up the photo-tagging process. Newly uploaded snapshots are compared to other pictures on the site, and Facebook provides suggestions on who might be in the photo.

But Nimesh Patel, Adam Pezen, and Carlo Licata claim the practice violates the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2008 (BIPA), which requires companies to obtain consent from consumers before collecting or storing biometric data.

Facebook says its user agreement stipulates that disputes must be resolved in its home state of California—which does not have laws regulating biometrics or facial recognition. Still, a San Francisco judge found that Illinois law applies, and rejected Facebook's argument that the BIPA does not apply to tag suggestions.

Facebook did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.

Not everyone wants their photos posted online—especially without permission. A 2012 Sophos survey suggested that nearly all Facebook users think it's rude to post a photo or video of someone without asking.

If the prospect of having yourself tagged in dozens of photos across Facebook makes you cringe, you can opt out by visiting Settings and "Timeline and Tagging," where you can choose who can see tag suggestions when uploading photos (friends or no one).

In early 2014, Twitter updated its iOS and Android apps to enable photo tagging, letting users ID friends without eating into their 140-character count.

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