A California federal judge approved a class action settlement on Feb 26th, pursuant to which Facebook is ordered to pay $650 million for violating Illinois privacy laws through a lawsuit filed in 2015. Still, this astronomical settlement might not even touch Facebook’s monetary bottom line.
The order from Judge James Donato will compensate nearly 1.6 million Illinois class members by at least $345, pending a final accounting of claims and expenses, with them receiving the funds “as expeditiously as possible.” Jay Edelson, a Chicago attorney who filed the lawsuit, told the Chicago Tribune that the checks could be in the mail within two months unless there is an appeal over the ruling.
In his decision, Judge Donato called it one of the largest privacy settlements ever and a “landmark result,” one of the largest settlements ever for a privacy violation. Continuing that it was “a major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy.”
The Class action lawsuit started six years ago when Edelson sued Facebook, alleging it illegally collected biometric data to identify faces in violation of a 2008 Illinois privacy law—the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). This law requires companies gathering biometric information to obtain the specific consent of the user. It is one of the strictest such laws in the U.S. Similar laws have subsequently passed in Washington and Texas. Still, the BIPA remains the only law in the U.S. that allows private individuals to file for damages stemming from a violation. This damages provision prompted several class-action lawsuits, the first of which came on December 1, 2016, when a Cook County,