Facebook users in Illinois stand to gain between $200 and $400 each after the tech giant was ordered to pay a $650 million settlement for illegally collecting biometric data for facial recognition.
Although Facebook claimed it had done nothing wrong, in January 2020, it attempted to settle the case for $550 million.
But in July 2020, the judge on the case ruled that the amount was inadequate.
U.S. District Judge James Donato handed the decision down on Friday, according to AFP. It was six years ago that Chicago attorney Jay Edelson filed a suit against Facebook.
Edelson claimed Facebook had collected biometric data to identify faces without the user’s permission and thereby violated the rights under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
The payment will settle a privacy dispute between the social network and 1.6 million users in Illinois.
The trial proved that Facebook violated Illinois law by storing biometric data—digital scans of people’s faces, supporting its face-tagging feature—without users’ consent.
U.S. District Judge James Donato said, “It is one the largest settlements ever for a privacy violation.”
Donato said, “The violations here did not extract a penny from the pockets of the victims. But this is real money that Facebook is paying to compensate them for the tangible privacy harms that they suffered,” reports the Chicago Tribune.
A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to AFP, “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.”
Meanwhile, in Australia, Facebook has reversed its ban on all news content on Australian pages it had slapped on the country last week.
The historical banning of news came during rising tensions over legislation that would force Facebook to negotiate a fair payment with news publishers for using their content.
The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and communications minister Paul Fletcher announced that they had reached a compromise at the 11th hour as the legislation was being debated in the Senate.
Will Easton, Facebook’s Australian managing director, confirmed the news would be restored shortly, reports The Guardian.
“We’re pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with the Australian government and appreciate the constructive discussions we’ve had with treasurer Frydenberg and minister Fletcher over the past week,” he said in a blog post.
“After further discussions, we are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them.”