After more than five years of fighting in court, Facebook has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit claiming that they illegally stored the biometric data of users without their consent.
The $650 million settlement represents one of the largest payouts from a social media platform ever for privacy violations, and it's all due to an obscure state law involving pictures uploaded to the social media platform.
Biometric Data Storage Without Consent
A class-action lawsuit was brought against Facebook, claiming that it violated a 2008 law in Illinois known as the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). According to a Chicago news article, the law states that “companies are not allowed to collect, store, or give out biometric data, which includes things like face or fingerprint scans, without first giving notice and obtaining personal consent.”
“It also requires companies to specify how the information would be retained, and when it would be destroyed.”
In plain English, the case claims that Facebook broke the Biometric Information Privacy Act when it used facial recognition technology to create templates of people's faces that could then be used to identify users without their consent.
Facebook has denied all allegations of wrongdoing but has agreed to create a $650 settlement fund to compensate more than 1.4 million people.
Who is Eligible for Compensation?
Facebook's own data was used to determine who is included in the Class and is eligible for compensation.
According to the Settlement Administrator, the court decided that “Facebook users located in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011” are eligible to receive a settlement payment.
You don't necessarily have to be a current Illinois resident either. Per the website, “you must have lived in the State of Illinois for a period of at least 183 days (or 6 months) after June 7, 2011.”
For those who filed a claim, payments began going out on May 9, 2022. The Settlement Administrator advises that “if you are expecting a payment but haven't yet received it, we ask that you wait until mid-June before making an inquiry.”
i just got $400 from a class action suit the state of illinois started against facebook in like 2018
— ashley Ⓥ (@trashhleyyyy) May 28, 2022
Facebook just sent me a check for $400 for being creepy with my data as part of some class action thing
— Richard Barney (@rkbarney) June 3, 2022
Many people have already started receiving checks, some incredulous that it actually happened after so many years. According to the class action website, the checks going out should be for $397, and multiple members in a household can be eligible.
If you are unsure if you are eligible, the Settlement Administrator requests that you contact them at 1-844-799-2417.
Is a Google Payout Next? $100M Settlement on the Table
It appears that Facebook is merely the first domino to fall in a chain of lawsuits against Big Tech.
Google recently settled a class-action lawsuit that alleged the company also violated the Biometric Information Privacy Act. According to the Google settlement website, you are eligible to be a Class Member if “at any time between May 1, 2015, and April 25, 2022, you appeared in a photograph in Google Photos while you were an Illinois resident.”
If the court approves the settlement, $100 million will be set aside to create a settlement fund for those affected.
If you missed your chance to file a claim for the Facebook settlement, you have until September 24, 2022, to do so for the Google case. The Settlement Administrator expects the payout to be between $200 and $400, depending on the number of claims filed.
You can submit your information directly on the website or call the Settlement Administrator at 1-833-927-3418 for additional information to file a claim.
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Andrew is the founder of Wealthy Nickel where he writes about all things personal finance. He has a passion for helping people pursue financial freedom through saving money, making money, and building wealth. Andrew documents his family’s journey to financial independence through side hustles while raising 2 kids on a single income