A settlement has been reached in a $100 million dollar class action lawsuit against Google impacting an estimated 1.4 million Illinois resident users. The order comes as a result of Rivera, et al. v. Google LLC , where users photographs appeared in the storage application service, known as Google Photos, without having acquired proper consent nor provided notice to its users. Google is only one of many technology giants joining trending litigation in violation of the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). While this settlement is one of the largest in Illinois to date, one can expect there to be more class-action lawsuits on the way.
On Friday, February 26, 2021, U.S. District Court Judge James Donato approved a 650 million-dollar settlement against tech giant Facebook for violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. Chicago attorney Jay Edelson filed the class action lawsuit in 2015, alleging that Facebook had failed to obtain consent from users before using facial recognition technology to scan and digitally store uploaded photos.
This spring I had the pleasure of attending a conference entitled Digital Platforms: Innovation, Antitrust, Privacy & the Internet of Things hosted by the UIC John Marshall Law School Center for IP, Information & Privacy Law. Throughout the day, panelists spoke about various topics of intellectual property, including artificial intelligence antitrust issues, and more. But for me, the highlight of the afternoon was the session on privacy issues. Here is a bit of what I learned…
The use of facial recognition technology in the commercial context generates numerous consumer privacy concerns. As technology becomes increasingly present in many aspects of our life, regulations on states and federal level are struggling to catch up. Currently, only three states (Illinois, Washington, and Texas) implemented biometric privacy laws, and only Illinois grants individuals with a private right of action.
In 2008, the Illinois legislature introduced and passed the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which became the first law of its kind in the US. BIPA was passed to protect individuals against the unlawful collection and storing of biometric information. While many states have enacted similar laws, BIPA remains the most stringent among its contemporaries.
Recently, Google added new functionality to the Google Arts & Culture app that allows users to snap a selfie and find artwork from around the world that resembles the user. The app very quickly rose to the top of the charts as users around the United States took plenty of photos. Almost everywhere around the United States at least. Illinois and a few other states have laws that prohibit the collection or use of biometric (iris, fingerprint, etc.) data by businesses except under certain circumstances. The Google Arts & Culture app uses biometric data to compare a user’s image to the Mona Lisa (or any other portrait).