The Notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, your rights, what payments are available, and how to get them.
The Hon. James Donato of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California is overseeing this class action. The lawsuit is known as In re Facebook Biometric Information Privacy Litigation, Case No. 3:15-CV-03747-JD.
Facebook users in Illinois sued Facebook claiming that its “Tag Suggestions” feature and other features involving facial recognition technology, violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act ("BIPA"). That law says companies can't collect, store, or give out "biometric data," which includes things like face or fingerprint scans, without first giving notice and getting consent. This case alleges that Facebook used facial recognition technology to create face templates - unique templates that can be used to identify users in photos - that these templates are covered by BIPA, and that Facebook did this without the proper notice and consent. Facebook denies all allegations of wrongdoing and liability.
In a class action lawsuit, one or more people called “Class Representatives” sue on behalf of other people who have similar claims. The people together are a “Class” or “Class Members.” One court resolves the issues for everyone in the Class – except for those people who choose to exclude themselves from the Class. In this case, the Court appointed Plaintiffs Nimesh Patel, Adam Pezen, and Carlo Licata as the Class Representatives. The people who sue are called the “Plaintiffs.” These individuals are each from Illinois and claim that they had face templates created and stored by Facebook.
Facebook and the Class Representatives spent more than five years in Court fighting this case. Shortly before trial, both sides agreed to a settlement. The Settlement gives Class Members guaranteed payments now wheras in a trial, Class Members might get nothing or might get payments only years from now. Because there is a settlement, the Court has not decided who should win the case.
The Court decided that all people who fit this definition are included in the Class: “Facebook users located in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011.”
To receive money under the Settlement, you must have lived in the State of Illinois for a period of at least 183 days (6 months) after June 7, 2011. Time spent traveling or taking a vacation outside Illinois can be included in this time period and does not make you ineligible.
Facebook's records were used to identify certain Class Members who should have received Notice through email or on Facebook. If you didn't get a Notice and think you're included, you might be part of the Class if you are a current or former Facebook user in Illinois who uploaded a photgraph of yourself or were "tagged" in a photograph on Facebook after June 7, 2011. Not everybody in Illinois who uses Facebook is included. If photographs of you that were uploaded to Facebook (by yourself or others) after June 7, 2011 did not result in the creation of a face template while you lived in Illinois, you are not part of the Class.
Some useres are excluded because they work for Facebook or are related to the judges or lawyers in the case. The Settlement Agreement has a list of the categories of people who are excluded. Of course, users who request to be excluded (this process is explained below) aren't included either.
If you are still not sure whether you are included, you can get free help by visting this website, by calling the Settlement Administrator at 1-844-799-2417 or by calling the lawyers appointed to represent Class Members in this case, Edelson PC (“Edelson”) of Chicago, Illinois 1-866-354-3015, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP (“Robbins Geller”) of San Francisco, California 1-800-449-4900, and Labaton Sucharow LLP (“Labaton Sucharow”) of New York, New York 1-888-219-6877. Please do not contact the Court or Facebook.
Facebook will pay $650 million to settle this case. That money will go into a "Settlement Fund" to pay for everything related to the Settlement. Most of the money will go to Class Members who submit valid Claim Forms (more about that in the question below). The rest will be used to pay the costs of notifying people about the Settlement, the lawyers' fees, awards to the Class Representatives who helped bring the lawsuit, and certain taxes.
Facebook will also turn "off" its Face Recognition feature for most Class Members. If those Class Members don't turn Face Recognition back on, Facebook will delete all existing face templates for those users.
Some Class Members who already turned Face Recognition back "on" for themselves, including Class Members who recently signed up for Facebook, won't have their Face Recognition setting turned off.
Finally, Facebook will delete any face templates of any Class Members who have had no activity on Facebook for a period of three years.
Payments will likely be approximately $200 to $400 per person. We can't give you an exact number right now because the payment amounts depend on how many Class Members file valid claims and the amount of fees, costs, expenses, and awards deducted from the Settlement Fund. This Settlement Website will periodically be updated to provide the estimated payment amount based on the number of participating Class Members.
To get a payment you have to complete and submit a valid Claim Form no later than November 23, 2020. Please file your claim electronically on this website. Not only is submitting online easier and more secure, but it is completely free and takes only minutes. You can get payment by a check or electronically through Zelle, PayPal, and direct deposit.
If you want to get a paper copy of the Claim Form, please click here or call toll-free, 1-844-799-2417.
We can't give you a date yet. Payments will be made about two months after the Court approves the Settlement. The Court will consider final approval of the Settlement on January 14, 2021. Even if the Court approves the Settlement, there may be appeals. It is always uncertain whether and when appeals can be resolved, and resolving them can take more than a year.
All checks will expire and become void 90 days after they are issued. If there is any money left because of uncashed checks or returned electronic payments, you may get a second payment if you filed a valid claim. If there is money left after the second payment, that money may be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois to be used for their efforts protecting biometric privacy rights.
The Settlement Website will be updated to inform Class Members of the progress of the Settlement. Please be patient.
Unless you exclude yourself, you are staying in the Class. That means that if the Court approves the Settlement, you are giving up the right to file your own lawsuit agains, or seek further money from, Facebook for any of the issues or claims in the case--whether or not you are currently aware of those claims.
The specific scope of the claims you are releasing is in paragraph 1.25 of the Settlement Agreement, which is available through the "Court Documents" link on this Settlement Website. If you have any questions, you can talk to the lawyers listed in Question 14 for free, or you can, of course, talk to your own lawyer if you have questions about what the release means.
If you are a Class Member and do nothing (meaning you don't submit a Claim Form and don't exclude yourself), you will not get anything from this Settlement and you will release your claims as explained above.
The Court has appointed the law firms of Edelson (1-866-354-3015), Robbins Geller (1-800-449-4900), and Labaton Sucharow (1-888-219-6877) to represent you and all Class Members. These firms are called “Class Counsel.” The law firms are experienced in handling similar class action cases. More information about Edelson, Robbins Geller, and Labaton Sucharow, their practices, and their lawyers’ experience is available at www.edelson.com, www.rgrdlaw.com, and www.labaton.com.
They believe, after fighting with Facebook in Court for several years, that the Settlement Agreement is fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of the Class. You will not be separately charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer in this case, you may hire one at your expense.
The Court will determine how much Class Counsel will be paid for attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses in this case. The amounts will be paid from the $650 million Settlement Fund. Class Counsel will apply for an attorneys' fees award of no more than twenty percent of the original $550 million settlement fund, plus costs and expenses. Labaton Sucharow will use money from its share of what is awared to pay the Offices of Norman Rifkind.
Class Counsel will also ask the Court to approve service awards of up to $7,500 each to compensate the Class Representatives for their services on behalf of the Class.
Class Counsel’s application for an award of attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses and the Class Representative awards will be made available on the "Court Documents" page of this Settlement Website on October 15, 2020.
To exclude yourself from the Class, and no longer be part of the Settlement, you must mail, email, or deliver a letter stating that you want to be excluded from the Class in In re Facebook Biometric Information Privacy Litigation, Case No. 3:15-cv-03747-JD. Your request for exclusion must include your name, address, email address, and your signature. If your email address is different than the email address associated with your Facebook account, please also include an email address associated with your account or a mobile phone number associated with your account. You must mail or submit your exclusion request no later than November 23, 2020, to:
In re Facebook Biometric Information Privacy Litigation Settlement Administrator
P.O. Box 43401
Providence, RI 02940-3401
No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up any right to sue Facebook for the claims being resolved by this Settlement. If you have a pending case against Facebook, please speak with your attorney immediately.
No. If you exclude yourself, you should not submit a Claim Form to ask for a payment because you will no longer be eligible for any.
You can comment on, or object to, the Settlement, Class Counsel's request for attorneys' fees, costs and expenses, and/or the request for service awards for the Class Representatives.
You can ask the Court to deny approval by filing an objection. You cannot ask the Court to order a different settlement; the Court can only approve or reject the settlement. If the Court denies approval, no settlement payments will be made now, and the litigation will continue. If that is what you want to happen, you must object.
Any objection to the proposed Settlement must be in writing. If you file a written objection before the deadline, you may, but don't have to, appear at the Final Approval Hearing. If you want to appear, you can do so yourself or through your own attorney. If you appear through your own attorney, you are responsible for hiring and paying that attorney.
All written objections must contain the following:
• The name and case number of this lawsuit (In re Facebook Biometric Information Privacy Litigation, Master File No. 3:15-CV-03747-JD);
• Your full name, mailing address, email address, and telephone number;
• If you use a different email address or telephone number for your Facebook account, please also provide that information;
• An explanation of why you believe you are a Class Member;
• A statement that identifies whether you are objecting only on your own behalf, on behalf of a subsection of the Class, or on behalf of the Class as a whole;
• All reasons for your objection or comment, including all citations to legal authority and evidence supporting the objection;
• Whether you intend to personally appear and/or testify at the Final Approval Hearing (either personally or through counsel), and what witnesses you will ask to speak;
• The name and contact information of any and all attorneys representing, advising, and/or assisting you, including any counsel who may be entitled to compensation for any reason related to your objection or comment, who must make an appearance with the Court in accordance with the Local Rules; and
• Your handwritten or electronically imaged signature. An attorney’s signature, or typed signature, is not sufficient.
To be considered by the Court, your comment or objection must be received by the Court either by mailing it to the Class Action Clerk, United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Phillip Burton Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, or by filing it in person at any location of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. To be considered, your comment or objection must be filed or postmarked on or before November 23, 2020.
Objecting means that you disagree with some aspect of the Settlement and think the Court should not approve the Settlement. An objection, or a comment, allows your views to be heard in court. You can object only if you stay in the Class.
Excluding yourself from the Class means that you are no longer a Class Member and do not want the Settlement to apply to you. If you exclude yourself, you lose any right to receive any payments or benefits from the Settlement or to object to any aspect of the Settlement because the case no longer affects you.
The Court is scheduled to hold the Final Approval Hearing on January 14, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. by Zoom webinar. The hearing may be rescheduled to a different date or time or location without another Notice to Class Members. Especially given the national health emergency, the date, time and location of the hearing may be subject to change, as will the manner in which Class Members might appear at the hearing. Please review this Settlement Website for any updated information regarding the Final Approval Hearing.
At the Final Approval Hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. The Court may listen to people who appear at the hearing and who have provided notice of their intent to appear at the hearing. The Court may also consider Class Counsel’s application for attorneys' fees, costs and expenses and for service awards to Class Representatives.
No. Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have. You may attend at your own expense if you wish. If you submit a written objection or comment, you do not have to come to the Court to talk about it. As long as you submit your written objection or comment on time, and follow the requirements above, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own attorney to attend, but it is not required.
Yes. You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Final Approval Hearing. At the hearing, the Court, in its discretion, will hear any objections and arguments concerning the fairness of the Settlement and/or Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees, costs, expenses, and incentive awards.
To do so, you must include in your objection or comment a statement saying that it is your “Notice of Intent to Appear in In re Facebook Biometric Information Privacy Litigation, Case No. 3:15-cv-03747-JD". It must include your name, address, email, telephone number and signature as well as the name and address of your lawyer, if one is appearing for you. Your submission and notice of intent to appear must be filed with the Court and be received no later than November 23, 2020.
You cannot speak at the hearing if you exclude yourself from the Class.
The Notice summarizes the proposed Settlement. More details are in the Stipulation of Class Action Settlement, in the Court’s orders, and other relevant documents, which are available here.
You can also get information about this case by accessing the Court docket, for a fee, through the Court’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system at www.cand.uscourts.gov, or by visiting the office of the Clerk of the Court for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Courthouse, between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Court holidays.
You may also contact the Settlement Administrator at 1-844-799-2417 or write to In re Facebook Biometric Information Privacy Litigation Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 43401, Providence, RI 02940-3401, or call Class Counsel Edelson (1-866-354-3015), Robbins Geller (1-800-449-4900), and Labaton Sucharow (1-888-219-6877).
PLEASE DO NOT TELEPHONE THE COURT OR THE COURT CLERK’S OFFICE
TO INQUIRE ABOUT THIS SETTLEMENT OR THE CLAIM PROCESS.
All questions regarding the Settlement or claims process should be directed to the Settlement Administrator or to Class Counsel.