A federal judge in California issued final approval to a $650 million Facebook class-action privacy settlement with an order for expeditious payment to nearly 1.6 million members of the class in Illinois.
In April 2015, Chicago attorney Jay Edelson filed a lawsuit against Facebook in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of plaintiff Carlo Licata. He alleged that the social media giant was using its facial tagging features without the consent of the user which directly violated Illinois privacy law. The case was moved to Chicago federal court and then California federal court, where it attained class-action status in 2018.
Soon in 2019, Facebook made facial recognition on the platform as an opt-in. Out of the 6.9 million Facebook users in Illinois, nearly 1.6 million filed their claim forms.
Facebook agreed to settle for $650 million, out of which $97.5 million was awarded as attorney’s fees and $915,000 in expenses. Three named plaintiffs were awarded $5000 each and the rest would be equally divided among the 1.6 million class members approximately amounting to $345 each. Ruling Judge James Donato called it one of the largest privacy settlements ever and a major win for consumers.
The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act is among the strictest such laws in the U.S. and requires companies to get permission before using technologies such as facial recognition to identify customers.