Lawsuit Alleges Instagram Harvested User Biometric Data without Consent

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Facebook again is facing charges for reportedly harvesting biometric data from its users. This newly filed lawsuit targets Instagram, the company’s photo-sharing social network.

The complaint, filed in the state court system in Redwood, California, claims Facebook-owned Instagram profited from the collection and storage of biometric data from its 100 million users without consent.

At the heart of this complaint is the use and storage of biometric data from Instagram users. Plaintiff and Illinois resident Kelly Whalen alleges in the complaint that Instagram violates the state’s strict biometric privacy law. This law prohibits companies from collecting biometric data without a user’s consent.

Instagram has a policy on facial recognition, but this statement was only recently added to its website. If Facebook is found guilty of violating this law, the company could face a fine of $1,000 per violation or $5,000 per violation if its noncompliance was intentional.

Facebook recently settled a similar suit, also out of Ilinois, targeting Facebook’s photo-tagging tool.

According to this lawsuit, Facebook violated Illinois biometric privacy laws by scanning photos posted to Facebook and matching the facial data to other Facebook users. People who uploaded the images would then be prompted to tag these other Facebook users.

The lawsuit accused Facebook of collecting this biometric data without consent and storing it without disclosing how long the data would be kept.

Facebook claimed the suit has no merit but ultimately settled for $550 million because “it was in the best interest of our community and our shareholders to move past this matter.” These funds will be distributed to eligible Ilinois users and the plaintiff’s legal team.

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