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Instagram Faces Lawsuit Over Illegal Harvesting of Biometrics

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Facebook Inc. is facing new allegations that it illegally harvests the biometric data of users, this time in a lawsuit that targets the company’s photo-sharing app Instagram.

Last month, the social media company offered to pay $650 million to settle a lawsuit in which it was accused of illegally collecting biometric data through a photo-tagging tool provided to Facebook users.

In the new lawsuit, filed Monday in state court in Redwood City, California, the company is accused of collecting, storing and profiting from the biometric data of more than 100 million Instagram users, without their knowledge or consent.

“This suit is baseless,” Stephanie Otway, a Facebook company spokesperson, said in an emailed statement. “Instagram doesn’t use face recognition technology.”

Kelly Whalen, an Illinois resident who says she’s been using Instagram regularly since 2011, alleged in her complaint that the photo-sharing app’s practice violates a state privacy law that bars the unauthorized collection of biometric data. Under the law a company can be forced to pay $1,000 per violation -- or $5,000 if it’s found to have acted recklessly or intentionally.