Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Another Illinois Facebook face recognition lawsuit

Gillen v Facebook (Scribd)

Note: BIPA = Biometric Information Privacy Act

I have removed two footnotes in original.

1. Plaintiff brings this action for damages and other legal and equitable remedies resulting from the illegal actions of Facebook in collecting, storing and using Plaintiff’s and other similarly situated individuals’ biometric identifiers and biometric information (referred to collectively at times as “biometrics”) without informed written consent in violation of the BIPA.

2. The Illinois Legislature has found that “[b]iometrics are unlike other unique identifiers that are used to access finances or other sensitive information.” 740 ILCS 14/5(c). “For example, social security numbers, when compromised, can be changed. Biometrics, however, are biologically unique to the individual; therefore, once compromised, the individual has no recourse, is at heightened risk for identity theft, and is likely to withdraw from biometric-facilitated transactions.”

3. In recognition of these concerns over the security of individuals’ biometrics – particularly in the City of Chicago, which was recently selected by major national corporations as a “pilot testing site[] for new applications of biometric-facilitated financial transactions, including finger-scan technologies at grocery stores, gas stations, and school cafeterias,” 740 ILCS 14/5(b) – the Illinois Legislature enacted the BIPA, which provides, inter alia, that a private entity like Facebook may not obtain or possess an individual’s biometrics unless it: (1) informs that person in writing that biometric identifiers or information will be collected or stored, see id.; (2) informs that person in writing of the specific purpose and length of term for which such biometric identifiers or biometric information is being collected, stored and used, see id.; (3) receives a written release from the person for the collection of his or her biometric identifiers or formation, see id.; and (4) publishes publically available written retention schedules and guidelines for permanently destroying biometric identifiers and biometric information, see 740 ILCS 14/15(a).

4. In direct violation of each of the foregoing provisions of § 15(a) and § 15(b) of the BIPA, Facebook is actively collecting, storing, and using – without providing notice, obtaining informed written consent or publishing data retention policies – the biometrics of its users and unwitting non-users.

5. Specifically, Facebook has created, collected and stored over a billion “face templates” (or “face prints”) – highly detailed geometric maps of the face – from over a billion individuals, millions of whom reside in the State of Illinois. Facebook creates these templates using sophisticated facial recognition technology that extracts and analyzes data from the points and contours of faces appearing in photos uploaded by their users. Each face template is unique to a particular individual, in the same way that a fingerprint or voiceprint uniquely identifies one and only one person.

6. Plaintiff brings this action individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated to prevent Facebook from further violating the privacy rights of Illinois residents, and to recover statutory damages for Facebook’s unauthorized collection, storage and use of unwitting non-users’ biometrics in violation of the BIPA.
A wrinkle in this lawsuit is that the plaintiff is not, and never has been, a registered Facebook user and therefore could not have agreed to Facebook's terms of service.