While governments worldwide are starting to add facial recognition software to public cameras, Facebook has settled its long-term legal dispute concerning its use of this technology to tag people in photos uploaded to its platform. The company has agreed to pay $550 million to a group of plaintiffs from Illinois who argued the network didn't seek their consent when it first started the practice in 2011.
The news comes shortly after the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, making it likely that Facebook sees the settlement as the easiest way out. The legal action was first started in 2015 and has been elevated to a class action lawsuit in 2018. Back then, Facebook told Reuters that "We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously," but the tone has changed this year. The company told the BBC, "We decided to pursue a settlement as it was in the best interests of our community and our shareholders to move past this matter."
Back in 2011, the network began tagging users' faces automatically without asking for consent or warning them it would start the practice. It has since tweaked its approach and restructured the feature last year to be opt-in as part of its push to become more privacy-focused.