Facebook hit with lawsuit over illegal harvesting of biometrics via Instagram

Facebook is facing new allegations that it illegally harvests the biometric data of users, this time in a lawsuit that targets the company’s free Instagram photo-sharing service.

Facial recognitionRobert Burnson for Bloomberg:

Last month, the social media company offered to pay $650 million to settle a lawsuit in which it was accused of illegally collecting biometric data through a photo-tagging tool provided to Facebook users.

In the new lawsuit, filed Monday in state court in Redwood City, California, the company is accused of collecting, storing and profiting from the biometric data of more than 100 million Instagram users, without their knowledge or consent.

Mike Peterson for AppleInsider:

More specifically, that biometric data relates to facial recognition technology.

The lawsuit claims that Instagram uses a face-tagging tool that use facial recognition to create “face templates,” which are then stored in Facebook databases. It goes on to add that Instagram uses this tool automatically without obtaining a user’s consent, even if the people in the images don’t have Instagram accounts themselves.

“Once Facebook captures its Instagram users’ protected biometrics, it uses them to bolster its facial recognition abilities across all of its products, including the Facebook application, and shares this information among various entities,” the lawsuit reads.

MacDailyNews Take: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realise that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product.Apple CEO Tim Cook, September 2014


  1. Hit them where they breathe. Even if they used techniques like differential privacy. Apple’s at least is opt-in.

    Companies should not be allowed to enrich themselves by their users without the users consent. Period.

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