Facebook added $100 million to a previous class action settlement to satisfy a skeptical judge, who believed that Facebook was not adequately punished in the original $550 million proposed settlement; the revised settlement addressed these concerns regarding Facebook’s alleged unauthorized use of facial recognition technology in violation of the Illinois Biometrics Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
Wednesday’s revised settlement covers Illinois Facebook users whose pictures were on the platform after 2011. Depending on how many users file a claim, people could receive between $200 and $400 each. The original preliminary settlement was denied by Judge James Donato of the Northern District of California because of the “unduly steep discount on statutory damages under the BIPA, and failure to account for the BIPA’s enhanced damages of $5,000 for intentional or reckless violations.” BIPA requires companies to obtain consent before using consumer’s biometrics and informing users how long this information would be stored. Facebook allegedly did not adhere to BIPA’s requirements before using facial recognition technology on its users to tag friends in photos.
Judge Donato was also concerned about “the scope of release beyond the BIPA and for Facebook’s sister and affiliated companies.” The revised settlement releases Facebook and its sister or affiliated companies and executives, but it excludes “any entities in which Facebook or Face.com had or has a controlling interest or are affiliated with that did not use the Tag Suggestions feature such as Instagram, Inc., WhatsApp Inc., and Oculus VR Inc.” Meaning, there is an opening for future litigation or legal action.
Other social media and technology companies have also been accused of violating BIPA, including TikTok, Microsoft, Google, and Clearview AI, this Facebook suit and settlement could set a precedent for settlement valuations in the other suits.
The plaintiffs are represented by Edelson PC, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, and Labaton Sucharow LLP. Facebook is represented by Cooley LLP.