Facebook hit with class action suit over facial recognition tool

Facebook contends it has been very open about the tool since its inception and allows users to turn it off and prevent themselves from being suggested in photo tags. (AFP)
Updated 17 April 2018
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Facebook hit with class action suit over facial recognition tool

SAN FRANCISCO: A US federal judge in California ruled Monday that Facebook will have to face a class action suit over allegations it violated users’ privacy by using a facial recognition tool on their photos without their explicit consent.
The ruling comes as the social network is snared in a scandal over the mishandling of 87 million users’ data ahead of the 2016 US presidential election.
The facial recognition tool, launched in 2010, suggests names for people it identifies in photos uploaded by users — a function which the plaintiffs claim runs afoul of Illinois state law on protecting biometric privacy.
Judge James Donato ruled the claims by Illinois residents Nimesh Patel, Adam Pezen, and Carlo Licata were “sufficiently cohesive to allow for a fair and efficient resolution on a class basis.
“Consequently, the case will proceed with a class consisting of Facebook users located in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011,” he said, according to the ruling seen by AFP.
A Facebook spokeswoman said the company was reviewing the decision, adding: “We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously.”
Facebook also contends it has been very open about the tool since its inception and allows users to turn it off and prevent themselves from being suggested in photo tags.
The technology was suspended for users in Europe in 2012 over privacy fears.
Also on Monday, Facebook confirmed that it collected information from people beyond their social network use.
“When you visit a site or app that uses our services, we receive information even if you’re logged out or don’t have a Facebook account,” product management director David Baser said in a post on the social network’s blog.
Baser said “many” websites and apps use Facebook services to target content and ads, including via the social network’s Like and Share buttons, when people use their Facebook account to log into another website or app and Facebook ads and measurement tools.
But he stressed the practice was widespread, with companies such as Google and Twitter also doing the same.


India court reverses TikTok app restrictions

Updated 25 April 2019
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India court reverses TikTok app restrictions

  • It is already banned in neighboring Bangladesh and was hit with an enormous fine in the US
  • The case against TikTok was launched by an activist group that said the app encouraged paedophiles and pornography

NEW DELHI: An Indian court has reversed a decision that ordered Google and Apple to take down Chinese-owned video app TikTok over the spread of pornographic material, local media said.
The controversial but wildly popular app allows users to upload and share short 15 second clips from their phones and claims to have 500 million users worldwide — more than 120 million of them in India.
It is already banned in neighboring Bangladesh and was hit with an enormous fine in the United States for illegally collecting information from children.
The Wednesday ruling by the Madras High Court in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state requires the popular platform to prevent “obscene videos” from being posted.
“(The court) warned if any controversial video violating its conditions were found uploaded using the app, it would be considered a contempt of court,” a report by the Press Trust of India agency said.
On April 16, India’s government demanded Google and Apple remove the service from its app stores, though the order did not stop those who had already downloaded the app from using it.
The case against TikTok was launched by an activist group that said the app encouraged paedophiles and pornography.
India’s government told the court on Wednesday that they had formed a committee to suggest ways to regulate apps like TikTok, PTI said.
TikTok told the court that they had removed around six million controversial videos from the platform since the order was announced banning new downloads last week.
The app hit the headlines in India earlier in April after a 19-year-old man was accidentally shot dead by a friend in Delhi as they posed with a pistol to make a video on the platform.
TikTok has become a major rival to Facebook, Instagram and other social network sites among teenaged smartphone users in the past year.
Bangladesh banned TikTok in February as part of a clampdown on Internet pornography.
The same month, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said a $5.7 million fine ordered against the company was the largest imposed in a child privacy investigation.
The social network failed to obtain parental consent from underage users as required by the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, FTC officials said.