Originally posted on GovInfoSecurity by Scott Ferguson

Why This Facebook Privacy Settlement Is Unusual

Ending six years of litigation, a federal judge has signed off on a $650 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Facebook for violating Illinois’ groundbreaking privacy law that restricts collecting biometrics data.

The lawsuit claimed Facebook violated the rights of 1.6 million Illinois residents under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act.

The Illinois law is unusual because it allows citizens to bring class-action lawsuits and receive statutory damages for privacy violations, says Steven Teppler of the law firm Mandelbaum Salsburg P.C. While other states are considering similar biometrics privacy laws, many would not create a private right of action, leaving enforcement solely in the hands of the state’s attorney general’s office, he says.

“Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act is [unusual] in providing a private right of action and statutory damages along with attorneys’ fees – which not many privacy laws offer – which virtually guarantees active class actions like this one,” adds Richard Santalesa, a technology and data privacy attorney at The SmartEdgeLaw Group, a law firm with offices in New York and Connecticut. “As more states add privacy-focused … laws – most recently Virginia and now Florida teeing up – the challenge of actually complying with them all becomes more and more difficult.”

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