- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2019

A class action lawsuit against Facebook over its use of facial recognition technology may go forward, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The decision is the first time a federal appeals court has delved into privacy issues related to facial recognition technology, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 24-page opinion, upheld a district court’s decision to certify a class action against Facebook alleging violation of an Illinois state law which prevents companies from collecting an individual’s biometric data without consent.

“The development of a face template using facial-recognition technology without consent (as alleged in this case) invades an individual’s private affairs and concrete interests,” Judge Sandra Ikuta, a Bush appointee, wrote in the opinion for the court.

The class action challenges Facebook’s practice of using facial recognition technology to identify users in digital images without consent or notice.

“This decision is a strong recognition of the dangers of unfettered use of face surveillance technology,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, an attorney with the ACLU, which had filed a brief in the case siding with the class members.

Mr. Wessler said the ability to identify and track people based on faces presents privacy violations at an “unprecedented” level.

“Both corporations and the government are now on notice that this technology poses unique risks to people’s privacy and safety,” he added.

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