Facebook’s business model is a paradox for consumers who yearn for privacy yet share their selfies, intimate images and sometimes bizarre postings within its borders. How much privacy would you expect from a company built on making a substantial profit from your data? Facebook has decided to push the storage of your information even further and has subsequently been handed a class action complaint over consumer biometric retention.
So what and who, have Facebook violated this time? According to the filed complaint, Facebook “has created, collected and stored over a billion ‘face templates’ (or ‘face prints’)”, which, ostensibly, are as uniquely identifiable as fingerprints. These have been gathered “from over a billion individuals, millions of whom reside in the State of Illinois”. It is alleged that by harvesting this sensitive data, Mark Zuckerberg is in violation of the state of Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which was passed by the state legislature in 2008.
Now for the punchline, as noted in the complaint, under BIPA a private entity such as Facebook is prohibited from obtaining or possessing an individual’s biometrics unless it achieves suitable consent, which is constituted by the following:
- Informing that person in writing that biometric identifiers or information will be collected or stored
- Informing that person in writing of the specific purpose and length of term for which such biometric identifiers or biometric information is being collected, stored and used
- Receiving a written release from the person for the collection of his or her biometric identifiers or information
- Publishing publicly available written retention schedules and guidelines for permanently destroying biometric identifiers and biometric information
The group of plaintiffs state that they have not and never had a Facebook account, but their images were uploaded onto the site which resulted in the creation of a biometric template which was then stored by Facebook..
It’s difficult to imagine the social networking giant complying with the current legal and acceptable definitions enshrined in law. If Facebook loses this case then it would effectively open the door to millions of possible claimants who would seek damages for breaches of privacy. This stand-off is very much a .com terms and conditions VS real world laws and consequences, Facebook will no doubt argue that consumers shared this information voluntarily regardless of who actually shared it for the corporation to handle as they wish, one thing is certain; the outcome could pinpoint the paths which define consumer protection in the face of a growing will to collect more and more info by large corporations.
Who owns your image once it’s uploaded onto Facebook or any other site?
Thank you theregister for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of 1en