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CEO and Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Image: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook Agrees $550 Million Settlement Over Biometric Breach

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Facebook said on 29th January 2020 that it conceded to $550 million settlement in principle over a lawsuit that claimed it illegally collected and stored biometric data for millions of users without their consent.


The class-action lawsuit began in 2015 after Illinois users accused the social media giants of violating the state’s 2008 Biometric Information Privacy Act in collecting biometric data. This settlement also requires that Facebook obtains full consent from its users in Illinois before collecting any biometric data.


Facebook allegedly gathered the biometric data through its “Tag Suggestions” feature, which would allow users to recognize their Facebook friends from previously uploaded photos. The Tag Suggestion feature scans a user’s face in photos and offers suggestions about who that person might be.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in court. Photo: Fast Company.


Law firms Edelson, Robbins Geller, and Labaton Sucharow in a statement said the plaintiffs will ask the district court to give preliminary approval for the settlement.

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In 2018, Facebook began explaining its facial recognition tech to its users and showing them how they could disable it. In 2019, Facebook then decided to make facial recognition platform opt-in only. Ending years of making it default for all users.


A US federal judge ruled in favor of making the case a class-action lawsuit in 2018. Facebook appealed the ruling and lost the appeal in August 2019.

Facebook’s administrative costs rose by 87% from 2018

The $550 million settlement will be paid out to eligible users in Illinois. It will also cover the legal fees of the plaintiffs, according to The New York Times.


David Wehner, Facebook’s CFO, in an earnings call with investors also said the settlement added to the company’s increased administrative costs for 2019. Facebook administrative costs rose by 87% from the previous year.


“We decided to pursue a settlement as it was in the best interest of our community and our shareholders to move past this matter,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.


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