Facebook sued for allegedly harvesting biometric data via Instagram

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Facebook is being sued for allegedly collecting the biometric data of Instagram users or people who appear in photos on the platform without their consent.

Facebook sued for allegedly harvesting biometric data on Instagram. Credit: Katka Pavlickova
Facebook sued for allegedly harvesting biometric data on Instagram. Credit: Katka Pavlickova


In the complaint, lodged Monday in a Redwood City, California state court, Facebook is accused of "collecting, storing and profiting" from the biometric data of more than 100 million Instagram users. More specifically, that biometric data relates to facial recognition technology.

The lawsuit claims that Instagram uses a face-tagging tool that use facial recognition to create "face templates," which are then stored in Facebook databases. It goes on to add that Instagram uses this tool automatically without obtaining a user's consent, even if the people in the images don't have Instagram accounts themselves.

"Once Facebook captures its Instagram users' protected biometrics, it uses them to bolster its facial recognition abilities across all of its products, including the Facebook application, and shares this information among various entities," the lawsuit reads.

According to Bloomberg, the practice violates an Illinois privacy law and prohibits the unauthorized harvesting of biometric data. Per that law, Facebook could face fines of $1,000 per violation -- or $5,000 if it's found to have acted recklessly or intentionally.

Facebook has already seen controversy over similar practices. In July, the company agreed to pay $650 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged similar biometric data harvesting on Facebook's flagship social media platform, Reuters reported.

This isn't the first time the company has been in the spotlight for alleged privacy abuses. In April, a report indicated that the company had attempted to purchase spyware created by NSO Group to monitor iPhone users.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    Waiting for the news about Facebook and its properties being banned from all app stores over privacy and national security concerns. Actually, I don’t care what the concerns are, ban it anyway, ha ha!

    First the report about Facebook meeting with advertisers about iOS 14 ad tracking restrictions and then this! It’s turning out to be great week for Facebook news.
    rotateleftbytewatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 6
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,525member
    Waiting for the news about Facebook and its properties being banned from all app stores over privacy and national security concerns. Actually, I don’t care what the concerns are, ban it anyway, ha ha!

    First the report about Facebook meeting with advertisers about iOS 14 ad tracking restrictions and then this! It’s turning out to be great week for Facebook news.

    Except people on Facebook care more about posting slu**y selfies and bragging about how awesome a life they have.

    Facebook is going nowhere for the time being.
    razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 6
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,216member
    Beats said:
    Waiting for the news about Facebook and its properties being banned from all app stores over privacy and national security concerns. Actually, I don’t care what the concerns are, ban it anyway, ha ha!

    First the report about Facebook meeting with advertisers about iOS 14 ad tracking restrictions and then this! It’s turning out to be great week for Facebook news.

    Except people on Facebook care more about posting slu**y selfies and bragging about how awesome a life they have.

    Facebook is going nowhere for the time being.

    I thought the slutty selfies were on Instagram? B)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 6
    And _uckerberg will get yet another wink and nod pass.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 6

    According to Bloomberg, the practice violates an Illinois privacy law and prohibits the unauthorized harvesting of biometric data. Per that law, Facebook could face fines of $1,000 per violation -- or $5,000 if it's found to have acted recklessly or intentionally.
    So we can safely assume it's going to be $5k per incident.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 6
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 992member
    Not to sound paranoid, but I am convinced my instagram app was listening in on my conversations on my phone (I don’t use FaceBook).  I was having a conversation with a friend about the effectiveness of online advertising.  He was telling me about the crazy effectiveness of FaceBook advertising for his business due to it’s narrow casting.  I told him that I thought most online advertising was ineffective on me due to it’s retrospective nature of pushing ads for what you used to be interested in, like the time I was looking at miniCoopers online and had miniCooper ads follow me online afterwards for six months.

    The miniCooper ads which had ended two years ago, resumed over the next day.

    The next episode occurred a few days later when a coworker told me a joke involving jigsaw puzzles (something I have never searched for online or had a personal interest in what-so-ever).

    The next day, I was getting ads for jigsaw puzzles!

    I have since turned off access to the microphone on my settings.

    On both occasions, I was using the app around the time of the conversations.

    I think TikTok has nothing on the spying ability of Facebook and it’s related properties.
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