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Instagram accused of illegally harvesting biometric data

A new class-action lawsuit has accused Facebook of illegally harvesting biometric data on its subsidiary platform Instagram with a photo-tagging tool that allegedly stores facial recognition data.

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

In a statement to DailyMail.com, a Facebook spokesperson said that the claims are false, and that Instagram does not use the face recognition services that are offered on Facebook.

‘This suit is baseless. Instagram doesn’t use Face Recognition technology,’ spokesperson Stephanie Otway said. 

Instagram’s data policy states: ‘If we introduce face-recognition technology to your Instagram experience, we will let you know first, and you will have control over whether we use this technology for you.’ 

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. 

The new lawsuit accuses Facebook of similarly collecting and storing facial information of Instagram users. 

‘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. Facebook does all of this without providing any of the required notices or disclosures required by Illinois law,’ the plaintiffs wrote in their complaint. 

Only at the beginning of this year did Facebook start informing Instagram users that it was collecting the biometric data, according to the suit.

According to the suit, the practice violates an Illinois privacy law that bars the unauthorized collection of biometric data. 

Under the law a company can be forced to pay $1,000 per violation — or $5,000 if it’s found to have acted recklessly or intentionally, meaning the total fine could potentially reach $500 billion.

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