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Facebook Tagged in Class Action Suit Over Facial Recognition and Claimed Privacy Violations Under Illinois Statute

A recent class action lawsuit filed against Facebook may end up having far-reaching implications for large companies that do business all over the country. The lawsuit has to do with the facial recognition technology the social media company utilizes to allow users to “tag” themselves and each other in photos that get posted on the site.

The named plaintiffs of the class action lawsuit sued Facebook in Illinois for allegedly violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The law requires companies using facial-recognition software to inform their customers of the facial-geometry data that is being collected, how long the information is stored for, and how it gets used.

The law also requires companies to get a written release from consumers to authorize the company to collect the data. Negligent violations of BIPA come with statutory damages of $1,000 and $5,000 for violations that are considered to be intentional and reckless.

Facebook tried to have the consumer class action lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that its user agreement states that it is governed by California law, since Facebook’s headquarters are located in California. California maintains a “choice-of-law” provision that Facebook’s attorneys say protect the company from the need to abide by consumer laws in other states, but Judge James Donato of the Northern District of California denied Facebook’s motion to dismiss.

In his statement, Donato said that enforcing California’s choice-of-law provisions would directly conflict with Illinois’s policy of protecting its citizens and their interests in protecting their privacy in their biometric data. Donato said such a decision would ultimately negate various state laws and deny them the right to protect their citizens as they see fit. He is therefore allowing the class action lawsuit against Facebook to proceed.

Judge Donato’s decision could end up having far-reaching consequences for companies in all sorts of industries who conduct business in multiple states across the country. If his decision holds (if it does not get appealed, or if it does and an appellate court upholds his ruling) it could mean that, from now on, companies will no longer be able to choose the laws that govern their interactions with their consumers. It makes sense for companies to include provisions in their consumer agreements that say say they will only operate under the laws of their home state, even if they conduct business in other states. But according to Judge Donato, this practice illegally deprives consumers of their rights as citizens in the states in which they reside.

If this new ruling holds, large companies might want to start preparing themselves. Although it is currently more efficient and cost-effective to maintain an attorney or team of lawyers who are familiar with the business and consumer laws of just one state (and federal laws), companies that do a significant amount of business in other states might want to start thinking about investing in attorneys from all the states in which they do business as one of the best ways to protect their vested interest in those consumers.

Our Naperville, Illinois consumer rights private law firm handles individual and class action gift card, data breach, privacy rights, deceptive advertising, predatory lending, unfair debt collection, lemon law and other consumer fraud cases that government agencies and public interest law firms such as the Illinois Attorney General may not pursue. Class action lawsuits our law firm has been involved in or spear-headed have led to substantial awards totalling over a million dollars to organizations including the National Association of Consumer Advocatesthe National Consumer Law Center, and local law school consumer programs. The Chicago consumer lawyers at DiTommaso-Lubin with offices in Chicago and Oak Brook are proud of our achievements in assisting national and local consumer rights organizations obtain the funds needed to ensure that consumers are protected and informed of their rights. By standing up to consumer fraud and consumer rip-offs, and in the right case filing consumer protection lawsuits and class-actions you too can help ensure that other consumers’ rights are protected from consumer rip-offs and unscrupulous or dishonest practices.

Our Aurora and Joliet Village consumer attorneys provide assistance in data breach, privacy violation, fair debt collection, consumer fraud and consumer rights cases including in Illinois and throughout the country. You can click here to see a description of the some of the many individual and class-action consumer cases our Chicago consumer lawyers have handled. A video of our lawsuit which helped ensure more fan friendly security at Wrigley Field can be found here. You can contact one of our Cicero and Schaumburg consumer protection, gift card and data breach attorneys who can assist in consumer fraud, consumer rip-off, lemon law, unfair debt collection, predatory lending, wage claims, unpaid overtime and other consumer, or consumer class action cases by filling out the contact form at the side of this blog or by clicking here.  You can also call our toll free number at (877) 990-4990.