The titan of social networks never made any secret of its interest in your face. But three lawsuits filed in federal court in Chicago allege that Facebook went too far when it started converting its billion-person photo album into data.
When you post a photo to Facebook, the database automatically compares the faces in it to those of your friends. It suggests that you confirm its conclusions by “tagging” the friends, so it can notify them. Facebook says the feature makes it “easier for you to share your memories and experiences with your friends.” If you disable the feature, Facebook notes, it will delete the numerical version of your face and stop suggesting that others tag you.
Attorneys Paul J. Geller of Boca Raton, Fla.; Jay Edelson of Chicago and Joel Bernstein of New York City, though, claim that Facebook “never gave its members notice that their biometric information would be collected, stored or used.” That, they said, violates the Illinois law that companies can’t collect “a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of hand or face geometry” without telling the subjects in writing, revealing the purpose, saying how long it will be stored and getting written releases.