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Judge approves $650M settlement in photo-tagging lawsuit against Facebook

A federal judge in California has approved a $650 million settlement in 2015 a class-action lawsuit against Facebook over its use of photo face-tagging.

U.S. District Judge James Donato called the settlement a “landmark result” in a court filing on Friday, and said “it will put at least $345 into the hands of every class member interested in being compensated.”

“Overall, the settlement is a major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy,” Donato wrote.

The case centered around Facebook’s “tag suggestions” program, which identifies people’s faces in photographs uploaded to the platform for user tagging.

According to background provided in the court filing, the plaintiffs alleged that the platform used and stored digital scans of their faces without prior notice or consent, in violation of Illinois privacy laws.

Attorney Jay Edelson, who originally filed the suit in Illinois in April 2015, told The Chicago Tribune that the settlement was a “big deal.”

“It sends a pretty clear message that in Illinois, biometric privacy rights are here to stay,” he said.

Edelson celebrated the settlement on Twitter, writing that it was “the largest cash privacy class action settlement in history.”

Edelson’s firm had no additional comment on the settlement.

Facebook told The Associated Press in a statement, “We are pleased to have reached a settlement so we can move past this matter, which is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders.”

The Hill has reached out to Facebook for comment.

Facebook ended photo-tagging suggestions in 2019, and instead opted for a model to allow users to control what data the platform has over their face.

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