Facebook Seeks To Take 'Faceprint' Fight To Higher Court

Facebook is seeking to immediately appeal a judge's decision allowing group of Illinois residents to proceed with a class-action alleging that the company violated a state biometrics privacy law.

The company initiated the appellate process this week by filing a sealed petition with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to court records.

The move comes shortly after U.S. District Court Judge James Donato ruled that all Facebook users in Illinois who had their "faceprints" stored by the company since 2011 could pursue a class-action. The users who are suing alleged in a 2015 complaint that Facebook's photo-tagging feature violates the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act, which requires companies to obtain written releases from people before collecting biometric data, including scans of face geometry. That measure, passed in 2008, also requires companies that gather biometric data to notify people about the practice, and to publish a schedule for destroying the information. The law provides for fines of up to $5,000.

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Facebook's photo-tagging function recognizes users' faces and suggests their names when they appear in photos uploaded by their friends. To accomplish this, the social networking service draws on its vast trove of users' photos.

Facebook asked Donato to dismiss the lawsuit for several reasons, including that Facebook doesn't have servers in Illinois. The company also contended that a class-action wasn't appropriate because any injuries to consumers would require a person-by-person analysis.

Donato rejected those arguments in a ruling issued two weeks ago.

Facebook isn't the only company facing suit for allegedly violating the Illinois law. Google and Shutterfly are also battling lawsuits accusing them of collecting faceprints. Judges in those cases have so far rejected the companies' attempts to have the lawsuits dismissed.

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