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Illinois Facebook Users: Your Checks From a $650M Settlement Are in the Mail, Starting This Month. Here's What to Know

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Settlement checks are in the mail for more than 1.42 million Illinois residents who filed claims in a seven-year, $650 million class-action biometric privacy settlement against Facebook.

According to the Settlement Administrator, payments to class members between $200 to $400 started going in the mail May 9.

Here's what to know about the lawsuit, how to find out if you're eligible to receive a check, and when you might receive your payment.

What The Lawsuit Alleges

The lawsuit alleged that Facebook broke Illinois' strict privacy law by collecting and storing biometric data -- or physical characteristics -- of users without their consent through features including facial recognition technology.

Facebook users might recognize this feature as "Tag Suggestions" notifications.

Lawmakers passed the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act in 2008, requiring companies to obtain consent before collecting biometric information. The policy requires companies to specify how the information will be retained, and when it will be destroyed.

The law firm of Jay Edelson, a Chicago attorney, first sued Facebook for allegedly breaking Illinois' law in 2015. Two other firms joined Edelson in accusing the website of failing to meet the state's standard.

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."

A federal judge later grouped the cases together as a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Illinois Facebook users who were stored among the face templates.

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.

The Settlement requires Facebook to turn “off” the Facial Recognition setting and delete face templates for most Class Members unless they turn it back “on.”

Facebook denies it violated any law.

Are You Eligible to Receive a Payout?

According to the settlement website, “Facebook users located in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011” are elgible for a payout.

To have filed a valid claim under the Settlement, you must have lived in the State of Illinois for a period of at least 183 days (6 months).

The deadline to file a claim form was November 23, 2020.

How Much Money Could I Receive, and When?

If you believe you are a Class Member and you filed a claim by the deadline, you should receive approximately $200 to $400 per person from the $650 million Settlement Fund, the settlement website states.

"The amount you receive may be less than or greater than this amount depending on the number of valid claims filed," the statement continues.

Payments started getting mailed out to members on May 9, 2022.

The website states it will take about two weeks to finish mailing the checks and processing the electronic payments.

More information can be found about the lawsuit here.

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