Social media giant Facebook has brought forth an adjusted settlement claim to a U.S. District Court for a lawsuit filed against it earlier this year for violations under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
The latest $650 million amount being presented by Facebook represents a $100 million increase over the previous settlement that was rejected last month by U.S. District Court Judge James Donato on the grounds that the figure was too low considering the number of potential claimants in the class-action suit.
“That’s a lot of money,” said U.S. District Court Judge James Donato at the June 4th hearing, but continued, saying “[i]s it really a lot? The individual payments are going to end up being $150… possibly topping out at 300, depending on how things go with the claim rate. That is a significant reduction from the thousand dollars that the Illinois legislature set as the baseline.”
The lawsuit stems from allegations that Facebook was in violation of BIPA — which says that it is illegal to collect and store an individual’s biometric data without their express written consent — when it allowed for faceprints to be collected for its photo ‘tagging’ feature.
Under BIPA violations carry a fine of $1,000 per negligent infraction, and $5,000 for each knowing infraction. This, Judge Donato argued, would result in a far heavier monetary penalty than the originally proposed $550 million, which had been accepted by the plaintiff’s attorney.
“I’d also like to understand why there was no discussion whatsoever on why this is not a case where the enhanced damages of $5,000 per person are on the table,” said Donato at the time.
Over the past year several high profile BIPA cases have been brought forth to the courts, with a wide range of defendants from Google and Amazon, to Dr. Pepper and The Home Depot having been charged with various violations of the act.
In addition to the extra $100 million in settlement funds and in an effort to satisfy the courts, Facebook also opened the door for further legal actions against some of its affiliated companies like WhatsApp and Oculus VR by excluding them from the settlement agreement that releases the company and its executives.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
July 23, 2020 – by Tony Bitzionis