Facebook adds $100 million to landmark facial recognition settlement payout

Facebook has agreed to pay a total of $650 million in a landmark class action lawsuit over the company’s unauthorized use of facial recognition, a new court filing shows.

The filing represents a revised settlement that increases the total payout by $100 million and comes after a federal judge balked at the original proposal on the grounds it did not adequately punish Facebook.

The settlement covers any Facebook user in Illinois whose picture appeared on the site after 2011. According to the new document, those users can each expect to receive between $200 and $400 depending on how many people file a claim.

The case represents one of the biggest payouts for privacy violations to date, and contrasts sharply with other settlements such as that for the notorious data breach at Equifax—for which victims are expected to received almost nothing.

The Facebook lawsuit came about as a result of a unique state law in Illinois, which obliges companies to get permission before using facial recognition technology on their customers.

The law has ensnared not just Facebook, but also the likes of Google and photo service Shutterfly. The companies had insisted in court that the law did not apply to their activities, and lobbied the Illinois legislature to rule they were exempt, but these efforts fell short.

The final Facebook settlement is likely to be approved later this year, meaning Illinois residents will be poised to collect a payout in 2021.

The judge overseeing the settlement rejected the initial proposal in June on the grounds that the Illinois law provides penalties of $5,000, meaning Facebook could have been obliged to pay $47 billion—an amount far exceeding what the company agreed to pay under the settlement.

“We are focused on settling as it is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders to move past this matter,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

Edelson PC, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, declined to comment on the revised deal.

This story has been updated to include Facebook’s comment.

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