facial recognition

Over 1.4M Illinois Facebook Users Could Receive Share of $650M Settlement Starting in May

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the class-action settlement against the social network in March

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Jakub Porzycki | NurPhoto via Getty Images

More than 1.42 million Illinois residents who filed claims in the class-action biometric privacy settlement against Facebook may soon receive a share of $650 million.

Checks ranging from $200 to $400 will be mailed out in May following the seven-year-long lawsuit. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the settlement in full March 17, upholding its approval from February 2021. The lawsuit alleged that Facebook broke the state’s strict privacy law by collecting and storing biometric data of users without their consent through features including facial recognition technology.

To be eligible for the payout, claimants must have been a Facebook user for whom the website created and stored a facial recognition template for after June 7, 2011. They also were required to have lived in the state for at least six months over the previous nine years. 

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.

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.

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