Remember when Facebook became a public company and folks were mocking its inability to find the perfect revenue model? Well, those days are no more. According to Variety.com, in the 4th quarter of 2015, Facebook “had 1.59 billion monthly active users worldwide as of Dec. 31, up 14% year-over-year. Revenue of $5.84 billion was up 52% and net income more than doubled to $1.56 billion …” And they want us to believe that they made all that money by mobile usage and advertising? What about being paid for data collection – like pictures of your face? Or is that source of revenue just kept off the books like the Pentagon’s Black ops?
Thanks to a law passed in Illinois to keep biometric technology in check, Facebook now faces a civil lawsuit. The Daily Mail reports:
“The lawsuit filed by three Illinois residents under the auspices of the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act can proceed, US District Court Judge James Donato said. In the civil suit, they accuse Facebook of violating privacy with face-recognition software to help ‘tag’ people in pictures.
“‘The court accepts as true plaintiffs’ allegations that Facebook’s face recognition technology involves a scan of face geometry that was done without plaintiffs’ consent,’ Donato said in the ruling.”
“The plaintiffs, three people who sued the company separately but were joined into one suit, alleged that under Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), a 2008 Illinois statute, corporations can’t use an individual’s biometric data without the person’s consent. This includes anything from fingerprints to facial geometry, but doesn’t include photographs. However, Judge James Donato ruled that because ‘Facebook scans user-uploaded photographs to create a ‘unique digital representation of the face … based on geometric relationship of their facial features,’’ it falls under BIPA…
… Court documents go on to state that Facebook wasn’t transparent about its privacy settings in its user agreement, which is not the first time the company has heard such complaints. ‘The use of a single ‘Sign Up’ click to activate an account and accept the terms of service presents a serious question of whether Facebook provided reasonable notice of its agreement, terms and whether the user truly manifested assent to them’ Donato wrote.”
It was President George W. Bush that signed National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD 59) and a Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD 64) in 2008 that established “a framework to ensure that Federal executive departments and agencies use mutually compatible methods and procedures in the collection, storage, use, analysis and sharing of biometric and associated biographic and contextual information of individuals in a lawful and appropriate manner, while respecting their information privacy and other legal rights under United States law.”
The key understanding in that paragraph depends on whether or not we understand what our “information privacy and other legal rights under United States law” are. Considering the change in dynamic since 9/11, which was used to usurp the foundations of this nation through panic and terror, they can be destroyed at any moment. Facebook, like many other technology companies are along for the ride – to make as much money as they can collecting and selling the data to the highest bidder. It’s comforting that there’s a judge in Illinois who knows better. But how long will his views remain intact while we slide into this world of tyranny?
(Photo credit: Dailymail.co.uk © Alamy )