Facebook to Pay $550 Million in Biometric Privacy Class Action Settlement

The social media giant will pay a landmark settlement to end a dispute with Illinois users over its face-tagging technology.
Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook has agreed to pay $550 million to settle a lawsuit from Illinois users who alleged their biometric privacy rights were violated by the social media giant.

Nimesh Patel, Adam Pezen and Carlo Licata in May 2015 filed a class-action lawsuit against Facebook arguing the technology it uses to suggest photo tags violates the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act by collecting and storing their biometric data without consent. Facebook's motion to dismiss the complaint was denied, and that decision was upheld on appeal in August.

Three law firms representing the plaintiffs on Wednesday issued a joint press release announcing the payout, which they note marks the largest all-cash privacy class action settlement to date.

"Biometrics is one of the two primary battlegrounds, along with geolocation, that will define our privacy rights for the next generation," said Jay Edelson, the plaintiffs' attorney. "We hope and expect that other companies will follow Facebook’s lead and pay significant attention to the importance of our biometric information."

Added co-counsel Paul Geller: "This case should serve as a clarion call to companies that consumers care deeply about their privacy rights and, if pushed, will fight for those rights all the way to the Supreme Court and back until they are justly compensated.”

It's unknown exactly how many Illinois residents will cash in, but it's expected that each will be paid at least $200. The settlement is pending approval by U.S. District Judge James Donato.

The plaintiffs were repped by Edelson PC, Labaton Sucharow and Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd.