“This decision is a strong recognition of the dangers of unfettered use of face surveillance technology,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “The capability to instantaneously identify and track people based on their faces raises chilling potential for privacy violations at an unprecedented scale. Both corporations and the government are now on notice that this technology poses unique risks to people's privacy and safety.” Today’s ruling allows the case to move forward as a class action in district court. In an opinion by Judge Ikuta, the court “concludes that the development of a face template using facial-recognition technology without consent (as alleged here) invades an individual’s private affairs and concrete interests.” As the court explained, “the facial-recognition technology at issue here can obtain information that is ‘detailed, encyclopedic, and effortlessly compiled,’ which would be almost impossible without such technology.” In light of these harms, the court found that the plaintiffs had alleged sufficient privacy injuries to have standing to sue.
“BIPA's innovative protections for biometric information are now enforceable in federal court," added Rebecca Glenberg, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Illinois. "If a corporation violates a statute by taking your personal information without your consent, you do not have to wait until your data is stolen or misused to go to court. As our General Assembly understood when it enacted BIPA, a strong enforcement mechanism is crucial to hold companies accountable when they violate our privacy laws. Corporations that misuse Illinoisans sensitive biometric data now do so at their own peril.”
Your Face Is Not a Bar Code
The ruling can be found online here: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/patel-v-facebook-opinionA copy of the amicus brief filed by the ACLU, ACLU of Illinois, ACLUs of Northern and Southern California, Center for Democracy and Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Illinois PIRG can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/patel-v-facebook-amicus-brief
More on this case can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/blog/privacy-technology/surveillance-technologies/people-should-be-allowed-sue-facebook-if-it