Just across the border, Illinois residents are opening their mailboxes to find $397 checks courtesy of a multi-million dollar settlement with Facebook. But while Illinois residents may be cashing in big, Hoosiers are left empty-handed and wondering why, or how, they could be included.
Why are Illinois residents getting settlement checks?
In February, a federal judge approved a $650 million settlement in a privacy lawsuit filed against Facebook. The lawsuit alleged the social media giant violated state privacy law by using facial-recognition technology without the users’ consent as part of Facebook’s “tag suggestions” feature.
The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) states that companies can’t collect, store or give out “biometric data” without first giving notice and being given consent. Biometric data includes things like fingerprints and facial recognition.
The website for the Facebook settlement stated the class action lawsuit has been in the courts for five years prior to both sides agreeing to the reported $650 million settlement. The settlement granted guaranteed payments to those found to have valid claims that their biometric data was collected and stored by Facebook.
The settlement website predicted payouts to Illinois residents ranging between $200 to $400 per person, the number depending on how many claims are found to be valid. More than 1.5 million eligible Facebook users in Illinois filed a claim, according to WTVO.
On May 9, the settlement checks began being mailed with many in Illinois reporting $397 checks arriving at their door.
Who was eligible for the settlement checks?
According to the settlement, those eligible for a settlement check were “Facebook users located in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011.”
Those wishing to receive a check as part of the settlement had to live in Illinois for a period of at least 183 days after June 7, 2011. Time spent outside the state traveling could be included in the time period.
Facebook records were used to identify certain individuals and notices were sent through email or on Facebook. Those who thought they might be eligible were able to file a claim prior to Nov. 23, 2020.
Why aren’t Hoosiers part of the settlement?
Illinois was the first state to pass a biometric information privacy law which allowed the class action lawsuit to be filed due to the alleged violation.
In Indiana, no current law exists that provides these same types of protections against companies using Hoosiers’ biometric data without their consent or notice.
Since Illinois’s passing of BIPA in 2008, several other states have followed suit and passed laws of their own or have pending laws that offer similar protections.
In Indiana, House Bill 1261 was introduced in January that touched on the subject and boasted of providing “consumer privacy” and would have required businesses to disclose “certain information” to consumers. The bill was referred to a committee where it has since died.
With no bill in place protecting Hoosiers’ biometric data without consent or notice, Hoosiers were left unable to file a similar claim or attempt to join in on any settlement for privacy violations leaving Indiana residents only able to watch as their neighbors cash in.