Patel v. Facebook, Inc.

Date01 July 2020
AuthorWang, Shuyu

932 F.3D 1264 (9TH CIR. 2019)

In Patel v. Facebook, Inc., (1) the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the United States District Court for the Northern District of California's decision to grant Facebook users' (plaintiffs) motion for class certification and denied Facebook's (defendant) motion to dismiss on the basis of standing. (2)

  1. BACKGROUND

    Facebook is a social network platform that allows its users to connect with each other by sending friend requests. (3) When users become friends, they can share content such as text and photographs. (4) Users can also tag their Facebook friends in photos posted to Facebook, which identifies the friend in the photo by name and includes a link to that friend's Facebook profile. (5)

    In 2010, Facebook launched a "Tag Suggestions" feature. (6) If the feature is enabled, Facebook may use facial recognition technology to analyze whether a user's friends are present in photos uploaded by that user. (7) This technology scans uploaded photos and detects whether they contain images of faces. (8) Then, it extracts facial geometric data points to create a face map. (9) The face map is then compared to face templates in Facebook's database, which contains data from users that have been tagged in more than one photo and have not opted out of the Tag Suggestions feature. (10) If there is a match, Facebook may suggest tagging the person in the photos. (11) These user face templates are stored on Facebook's servers, and neither the servers nor Facebook's headquarters are located in Illinois. (12)

    Users living in Illinois brought a class action against Facebook, claiming that this face recognition technology violated sections 15(a) and 15(b) of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). (13) The sections require a private entity collecting, using, and storing an individual's biometric identifiers to notify the individual in writing and secure a written release prior to taking any action, which, according to the complaint, Facebook failed to do. (14) The users also moved to certify themselves as a class under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (15)

    Facebook challenged the users' standing via a motion to dismiss, but the district court denied its motion and certified the class. (16) Facebook timely appealed this decision. (17)

  2. ANALYSIS

    The Ninth Circuit reviewed the district court's decision de novo. (18) The appeal involved two main issues: (1) whether the users...

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