Having trouble accessing augmented reality effects like filters and avatars on Instagram and Facebook? There’s a reason for that, at least if you’re in Illinois and Texas.
Meta, the parent company of both social networks, has disabled some augmented reality features on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Messenger Kids and Portal due to privacy and facial recognition laws in both states.
Although Meta says its AR filters aren’t considered facial recognition under either state’s laws, the company chose to remove some features.
“…Nevertheless, we are taking this action to prevent frivolous and distracting litigation under the laws of these two states based on a misinterpretation of how our features work,” Meta said in a statement, in part. . “We remain committed to delivering augmented reality experiences that people love and that a diverse roster of creators use to grow their businesses, without unnecessary friction or confusion.”
So why are only Illinois and Texas included?
An unusual law, passed in 2008 in Illinois, says companies aren’t allowed to collect, store or disclose “biometric data,” which includes things like facial scans or fingerprints, without permission. first give notice and obtain personal consent. A lawsuit was filed against Facebook in 2015, alleging that the company violated that law, Illinois’ biometric information privacy law, by collecting and storing biometric data – physical characteristics – of users without their consent through features such as facial recognition technology.
The three companies behind the lawsuits said the social network never told users that its photo tagging system used facial recognition technology to analyze photos and create and store “face templates”.
Facebook agreed to pay $650 million to end the litigation, with the money to be shared among Facebook users in Illinois who filed claims within a certain time frame, less costs and $97.5 million in attorney’s fees. Direct deposits and checks in the amount of $397 began hitting bank accounts this week as part of the payment.
Facebook changed its technology in 2019, replacing the tool with a broader facial recognition setting, which was disabled by default. The website announced that it would shut down its recognition software entirely in 2021.
Facebook denies breaking the law.
Illinois has generally been considered one of the most aggressive places in the world when it comes to technology regulations. Other states, including Texas and Washington, have biometric privacy laws, but none allow consumers to sue — what’s called a private right of action. That leaves enforcement to government attorneys, like when the Texas attorney general sued Facebook this year over facial recognition software.