Judge approves $650m settlement for Facebook users in privacy, biometrics lawsuit

Facebook users represented in the lawsuit may soon receive hundreds of dollars each.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

A $650 million settlement to close a class-action lawsuit alleging that Facebook violated user privacy has been approved. 

The case, a class-action lawsuit filed against the social media giant six years ago, alleged that Facebook violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which prevents companies from gathering or using biometric information from users without consent. 

The lawsuit claimed that the Facebook Tag Suggestions feature, which used facial markers to suggest people in image tagging, violated BIPA by scanning, storing, and using user biometrics to create "face templates" without written permission.

On Friday, in California, US District Judge James Donato approved the $650 million settlement, an increase of $100 million from Facebook's proposed $550 million in January 2020

The ruling has been described as a "landmark result." 

In total, close to 1.6 million Facebook users in Illinois could receive as much as $345 each within months, on the assumption that no appeal is filed, as reported by the Chicago Tribune

However, only users that signed up for representation in the class-action suit before the November 23, 2020 deadline are eligible for compensation. 

The three plaintiffs who originally filed the suit will receive $5,000 each. 

"Overall, the settlement is a major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy," the order read. "Final approval of the class action settlement is granted. Attorneys' fees and costs, and incentive awards to the named plaintiffs, are also granted."

In a statement, Facebook said, "we are pleased to have reached a settlement so we can move past this matter, which is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders."

In related news over the past week, video content-sharing platform TikTok has agreed to a $92 million settlement to resolve claims that the company harvested and shared data belonging to minors. 

The case, originating from 21 class-action lawsuits filed in California and Illinois, also included allegations of BIPA violations. 

TikTok has agreed to the settlement -- despite denying any wrongdoing -- in order to focus on "building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community."

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