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May 9, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 11:47am

Facebook loses initial bid to store your biometric data

News: A federal judge in California rejected the company's request to dismiss the lawsuit.

By CBR Staff Writer

Facebook has lost the first round of a lawsuit in which the company is accused of violating user privacy by unlawfully storing biometric information derived from users’ photographs.

The plaintiffs argue that Facebook’s photo-tagging system violates Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which was passed in 2008 to regulate the collection, use, safeguarding, and storage of biometric identifiers or biometric data by private entities.

Facebook added a feature in 2010, allowing users to tag themselves and others in photos uploaded to the social media site.

The lawsuit had been transferred from an Illinois court to one in California at Facebook’s request

A federal judge in California has now rejected the social networking giant’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.

Facebook argues that plaintiffs have failed to state a claim under BIPA and that a California choice-of-law provision in its user agreement precludes suing on an Illinois statute.

Plaintiffs say the BIPA allegations do state a claim and that they never agreed to a choice of California law.

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Facebook filed the motion arguing that plaintiffs cannot pursue a claim under the Illinois BIPA because they agreed that California law governs their disputes with the company, and that BIPA does not apply to tag suggestions.

Commenting on the judge’s ruling, lawyers for the plaintiffs said the decision is a key step towards protecting the privacy rights of consumers.

"We look forward to the continued prosecution of the action, and ultimately proving our case at trial," according to a joint statement by law companies Edelson PC, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and Labaton Sucharow.

In 2012, Facebook has settled with several of its users who filed a lawsuit against the social networking site at the end of 2011 for using their faces in sponsored story ads on the website.

In 2014, Facebook was sued over alleged scanning of private messages. The lawsuit was issued on behalf of 166m Facebook users in US.

The lawsuit filed by plaintiffs, Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley, accuse the social networking site of sharing the mined data with marketers, data aggregators and advertisers.

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