Instagram Faces Lawsuit Over Illegally Gathering Biometric Data

The new lawsuit filed earlier this week was made in state court in California, stating that Instagram violates a state privacy law by illegally collecting biometric data.

Facebook Inc. is facing a lawsuit (Whalen v. Facebook) after new allegations that its Instagram app illegally collected users’ biometric data, after offering to pay $650 million to settle a lawsuit last month.

The new lawsuit filed earlier this week was made in state court in Redwood City, California,  by Kelly Whalen, who alleged in her complaint that Instagram violates a state privacy law – a law that bars the unauthorised collection of biometric data.

A spokesperson for Facebook Inc. responded to such allegations by saying, “This suit is baseless. Instagram doesn’t use face recognition technology.”

Accused of collecting, storing and profiting from the biometric data of more than 100 million Instagram users, without their knowledge or consent, the photosharing app will potentially face fines up to $1000 per violation (or $5000 if found to have acted recklessly or intentionally) according to state law.

According to the suit, at the start of the year, Facebook Inc. did  warn Instagram users it was collecting biometric data and referring to their online data policy on face recognition, they state: “If we introduce face-recognition technology to your Instagram experience, we will let you know first, and you will have control over whether we use this technology for you.”

With many worried or questioning data privacy rights and if social media and big tech take advantage, we wonder if privacy is taken seriously by such companies. “Once Facebook captures its Instagram users’ protected biometrics, it uses them to bolster its facial recognition abilities across all of its products, including the Facebook application, and shares this information among various entities. Facebook does all of this without providing any of the required notices or disclosures required by Illinois law”, the plaintiffs wrote in their complaint.

Instagram is not the only social media app facing scrutiny this week regarding their use of data. With Trump announcing he wants to ban Tik Tok, The Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) in France has also begun a preliminary investigation into TikTok’s handling of user data after it received a complaint.

 

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