Facebook under fire for storing data from facial recognition technology on photos

Facebook has come under fire for storing  data on facial recognition from photos without the permission of users. The tool scans users' photos and suggests friends to tag.

According to multiple media reports, a US federal judge ruled that the company will have to face a class action lawsuit for the unlawful use of facial recognition. Facebook gathers and stores the "face templates" of users based on their facial features in the uploaded photos, without prior consent or notice, multiple media reports stated. This tool has been in use since 2011, when Facebook unveiled "Tag Suggestions", which offers suggestions to users on who to tag in an uploaded photo.

According to CNN, the company claims it has consistently been frank about how the "Tag Suggestions" feature operates, adding that directions for turning off facial recognition are available in its Help Center. The company's spokesperson said that it is "reviewing the ruling" and believes the case "has no merit", adding that the company will "defend [itself] vigorously".

Nonetheless, despite criticisms, Facebook recently announced it will reintroduce facial recognition technology in Europe. The company said that facial recognition will protect users' privacy, as it allows Facebook to detect when another individual is using the user's image as his or her profile picture, CNBC reported.

This comes as Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg apologised during recent congressional hearings surrounding the Cambridge Analytica scandal, as well as addressed issues surrounding user data access and measures taken to mitigate it.

"We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here,” he said. He added that the company will now go through every part of its relationship with people and make sure it is taking a broad enough view of its responsibility.