Tag friends in a photo online, and Facebook and other social media companies could get sued. But Facebook has now asked a California judge to declare unconstitutional an Illinois biometrics privacy law under which such lawsuits have been brought against Facebook and other social media and digital photo-sharing sites.
the fact that Facebook is a social media website that operates in a global
capacity and doesn’t answer to any one state’s laws – except for California
where the company’s headquarters is based – the lawsuit was brought citing the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, as plaintiffs living in Illinois argued the tagging system on
Facebook violated their online privacy and scanned their faces without their consent. Under BIPA, express consent is required in Illinois to have such scanning happen online.
As this current lawsuit could set precedent for the future, it is a case
that is being watched by many, especially lawyers that deal with cyber law. One
such lawyer is Linn F. Freedman, a Rhode Island attorney for the firm of Robinson+Cole, who writes about
privacy laws and the internet.
a case of first impression,” she told the Cook County Record.
is not the first time a lawsuit has been filed citing legislation concerning
biometric privacy laws. A chain of popular tanning salons has settled
out of court
claims brought under the law, while photo sharing
website Shutterfly was recently the defendant in a lawsuit concerning biometric
legislation. Popular app operator SnapChat has also been sued. The tanning
salon, L.A. Tan, and both social media websites were sued in Illinois under BIPA. L.A. Tan had been sued for its storage of scanned fingerprints from
customers using its salons.
has also been argued that the Illinois BIPA may be
unconstitutional. But Freedman isn't so certain.
could argue that it doesn’t cross a line because it protects facial identity
and fingerprints,” said Freedman.
for future litigation involving social media, a better solution, rather than settling claims out of court or fighting the law outright, may be better, more narrowly
defined legislation that better balances the need to protect privacy with the realities of technology.
law that protects consumers’ information and isn’t overly broad might be
acceptable,” said Freedman.
the case was moved to California, it is possible the suit against Facebook
could be dismissed. Facebook is also fighting for that to happen, as they have argued Illinois
laws such as BIPA should not apply to California-based companies, like them.
has filed a motion to dismiss the entire case, and Facebook could be successful
in that,” said Freedman.
of the outcome of the Facebook photo tagging case, it could result in various
outcomes outside of the courtroom This would be especially true if a judge declares the Illinois law unconstitutional as part of the litigation against Facebook.
be important for the case after that and the case after that,” said Freedman.