“A Big Victory for Privacy Groups” – Facebook Settlement

January 30, 2020

This week Facebook agreed to pay $550 million to settle a lawsuit about the use of facial recognition technology. The New York Times called the settlement "A Big Victory for Privacy Groups." In 2010, EPIC objected to Facebook's collection of biometric data and urged the FTC to modify a proposed settlement to limit Facebook's use of facial recognition. EPIC filed similar complaints about facial recognition with the FTC in 2016 and 2018. EPIC also filed several amicus briefs stating that the violation of a federal privacy law is sufficient to confer "standing," the right of consumers to bring lawsuits. In response to Facebook's challenge to the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act, EPIC wrote, "Judicial second-guessing of statutory protections for biometric data established by the state legislature, following a careful weighing of the public safety concerns, will come at an enormous cost to the privacy of Illinois residents." EPIC's views were adopted by a federal court in this case, which led to the recent settlement with Facebook. The text of the Illinois privacy law is available in the 2020 EPIC Privacy Law Sourcebook at the EPIC Bookstore. And EPIC's objections to the current FTC settlement with Facebook are now pending in federal court.

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