The class action lawsuit challenging Facebook’s facial recognition software could lead the company to lose between $10 billion and $50 billion. The system is being questioned under the Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act. The act forbids the collection of biometric identifiers without the person’s consent.

If Facebook loses the class action and its forced to compensate every Illinois user, this would mean paying from $1,000 to $5,000 each. According to some estimates, Facebook’s user base is about 10 million. This adds up to the large amount above, as reported by the Street.

Images from Facebook’s DeepFace scan. Credit: The Verge

Three Illinois residents argued that the face recognition system is aimed to speed up the tagging system. They also said it violated their privacy rights by not asking permission to use their faces as biometric identifiers. The system was introduced in 2010.

However, Facebook said that according to its user agreement, disputes must be resolved in its home state of California, which does not have any regulating laws involving biometrics identifiers. In fact, only Illinois, Texas and Connecticut have passed such measures.

A rejected motion to dismiss the lawsuit against Facebook

Last week Facebook’s motion to dismiss the case was rejected and it was determined that terms-of-service clause is not sufficient to invalidate the Illinois law. As a result, the plaintiffs have a valid claim under the Illinois biometric law and the case can proceed although is held in California, as reported by the Verge.

Lawyers for the allegedly affected users commented that this was an important 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,” they said in a joint statement by law firms Edelson PC, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, and Labaton Sucharow.

According to Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum in San Diego, the rule was a huge victory. Dixon said that it will demonstrate that the state law will be applicable in cases where a national company attempts to try cases in their own state without applying all states’ laws.

Source: The Street