Tue, 13 Apr 2021

1.6 million Facebook users awarded $345 in penalty fees

Robert Besser
05 Mar 2021, 02:30 GMT+10

A California federal judge has issued the final approval of a $650 million Facebook class action privacy settlement, handing down an order to award nearly 1.6 million Illinois Facebook users with at least $345 each "as expeditiously as possible."

Chicago attorney Jay Edelson, who filed the initial lawsuit against Facebook nearly six years ago, said that checks could be in the mail within two months, barring an appeal.

U.S. District Judge James Donato called the ruling one of the largest-ever privacy settlements and a landmark result.

"Overall, the settlement is a major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy," Donato stated.

In April 2015, Edelson filed a lawsuit against Facebook in Illinois, alleging that the social media giant's use of facial tagging without consent was not allowed under Illinois privacy laws. The case was later transferred to the California Federal Court, where it attained class-action status.

The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act is among the strictest such laws in the U.S. and requires companies to request permission before using related technologies to identify customers.

The settlement involves some 6.9 million Facebook users in Illinois.

Nearly 1.6 million claim forms were filed by the November 23, 2020 deadline, representing some 22 percent of eligible Illinois Facebook users.

Of the $650 million that Facebook agreed to pay, Donato awarded $97.5 million in attorneys' fees and some $915,000 in expenses. The court also awarded $5,000 to each of the three named plaintiffs. The remaining amount will be equally distributed to all class members.

"It is a big deal. It sends a clear message that in Illinois, biometric privacy rights are here to stay," said Edelson, as quoted in the Chicago Tribune.

(File photo. Credit Brett Jordan | Unsplash)

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