Data Privacy Lawsuit Could Cost Meta $90m

Facebook’s parent company Meta has agreed to pay nearly $100m to settle a decade-old data privacy lawsuit.

The suit was filed in 2012 over Facebook’s use of a browser plug-in 2010-11 to track users’ online activity even after they had logged out of their Facebook account. 

The agreement was submitted to the US District Court for the Northern District of California on Monday and is now awaiting approval. 

Should the agreement be signed off by the court, Facebook will have to distribute $90m among plaintiffs whose submitted web tracking claims against the company were verified. 

The total amount of the proposed settlement is only a fraction of the $650m class-action litigation settlement approved last year over Facebook’s photo-tagging feature and facial recognition technology. However, should the latest agreement be green lit, it will enter the record books as one of the top 10 largest data privacy settlements in United States history.

Under the proposed settlement terms, Facebook has agreed to sequester and delete all data collected to track users’ visits to third-party sites between 2010 and 2011.

A Meta spokesperson said: “Reaching a settlement in this case, which is more than a decade old, is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders and we’re glad to move past this issue.”

On the day the settlement was announced, the state of Texas sued Meta over allegations that Facebook illegally harvested the facial recognition data of tens of millions of state residents for a decade. 

As alleged in the suit, from 2010 through June 2011, Facebook “secretly forced millions of Texans into a facial-recognition scheme without their informed consent. 

“As a result, for the next ten years, tens of millions of Texans who appeared in media uploaded to Facebook unsuspectingly had records of their facial geometry captured by Facebook.”

Speaking at a news conference, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton said he is seeking billions of dollars in damages. 

Commenting on the suit filed by Texas, a Meta spokesperson said: “These claims are without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”

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