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Here's Why You Aren't Seeing Some Facebook and Instagram Filters in Illinois Anymore

Passed in 2008, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act says companies are not allowed to collect, store, or give out "biometric data"

NBC Universal, Inc.

Bunny ears, flower crowns and a wide variety of other filters can be used to spruce up photos on certain social media platforms. But if you're looking for such augmented reality effects on Facebook and Instagram, you might be having some trouble - at least in Illinois and Texas.

Meta, the parent company of both social networks, disabled certain augmented reality features on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms such as Messenger, Messenger Kids and Portal. The move followed a settlement in a $650-million privacy lawsuit against Facebook, alleging the company used photo face-tagging and other biometric data without the permission of its users - in violation of Illinois law.

Earlier this year, the Texas Attorney General filed suit against Meta, saying the company has unlawfully collected biometric data on residents for commercial purposes, without their informed consent.

Passed in 2008, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act says companies are not allowed to collect, store, or give out "biometric data," which includes things like face or fingerprint scans, without first giving notice and obtaining personal consent. A lawsuit was filed against Facebook in 2015, alleging the company broke that law by collecting and storing biometric data -- physical characteristics -- of users without their consent through features including facial recognition technology.

The three firms fronting the lawsuits said the social network never told users that its photo tagging system used facial recognition technology to analyze photos and create and store “face templates." Direct deposits and checks in the amount of $397 began to hit bank accounts last week as part of the $650 settlement.

Facebook changed its technology in 2019, replacing the tool with a broader facial recognition setting, which was turned off by default. The website announced it would shut down its recognition software entirely in 2021.

Illinois has generally been regarded as among the most aggressive places in the world in terms of regulations on tech. Other states, including Texas and Washington, have biometric privacy laws, but none allow consumers to file lawsuits — what’s known as a private right of action.

Associated Press/NBC News
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