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Facebook can't stop lawsuit over its facial recognition software

Automatic photo-tagging might run afoul of an Illinois privacy act.
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Flickr/Robert Scoble

Facebook will have to battle it out in court over a lawsuit that claims the social network's facial recognition software violates an Illinois privacy act. This week, a San Fransisco federal judge denied Facebook's motion to dismiss the case. The suit alleges that Facebook's facial recognition and photo-tagging system violates Illinois' 2008 Biometric Information Privacy Act, which states that companies must receive explicit consent to collect identifiers including fingerprints and, in this case, faceprints.

Facebook outlines its photo-tagging process in its terms of service and users can opt out of it. The lawsuit will decide whether this measure qualifies as explicit consent under the privacy act.

"The Court accepts as true plaintiffs' allegations that Facebook's face recognition technology involves a scan of face geometry that was done without plaintiffs' consent," U.S. District Judge James Donato wrote in his ruling.

Facebook faced similar privacy concerns in Europe and Canada, and it stopped using the facial-recognition tech in those regions.

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