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.


Myanmar evicts family of officer who testified on entrapment

Updated 21 April 2018
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Myanmar evicts family of officer who testified on entrapment

  • Two reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, have been detained since December 12 on charges of violating the Official Secrets Act.
  • Police Capt. Moe Yan Naing told a court that his superior had arranged for two policemen to meet the reporters and hand over documents described as “important secret papers” in order to entrap them.

Yangon: Myanmar police on Saturday evicted the family of a police officer who testified that he and others had been ordered to entrap two reporters working for the Reuters news agency who are facing charges that could get them up to 14 years in prison, the officer’s wife said.
The reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, have been detained since Dec. 12 on charges of violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act. The two helped cover the crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where a brutal counterinsurgency operation last year drove about 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to neighboring Bangladesh.
Police Capt. Moe Yan Naing told a court Friday that his superior had arranged for two policemen to meet the reporters at a restaurant and hand over documents described as “important secret papers” in order to entrap them.
On Saturday, Moe Yan Naing’s wife, Daw Tuu, said she and her daughter were ordered to move out of their police housing in the capital, Naypyitaw.
“A police officer called us this morning and said we have to move out of the housing immediately and that’s the order from the superior,” Daw Tuu said, sobbing.
Moe Yan Naing said he and other colleagues who had been interviewed earlier by Wa Lone about their activities in Rakhine had been interrogated under the direction of Brig. Gen. Tin Ko Ko of the 8th Security Police Battalion.
The police department’s action against Moe Yan Naing’s family caused an outcry in Myanmar.
“This is an outrageous move,” said Robert Sann Aung, a human rights lawyer. “This is to give an example to other police in the country to keep silent from telling the truth.”
The court in Yangon has been holding hearings since January. The defendants’ lawyers have asked the court to drop the case against the pair, saying prosecutors failed to present enough evidence to support the case, but the judge denied the motion.