Google has agreed to pay Illinois residents $100 million to resolve a class-action lawsuit over one of its Google Photos’ facial recognition features. According to the lawsuit, Google’s face grouping feature, which recognises your face in images and videos uploaded to Photos, violates Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
Why is Google Paying $100m as a settlement?
The BIPA- introduced in 2018- prohibits businesses from collecting and storing biometric data, such as a “retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of hand or face geometry,” without informing individuals in writing why the data is being collected and how long it will be stored. According to the lawsuit, Google gathers and analyses a person’s facial structure in connection with its face grouping function. And that too “without providing notice, getting informed written consent, or disclosing data retention rules,” and so is “in direct violation” of the law.
As a consequence of the class-action lawsuit, Google agreed to pay a $100 million settlement and must notify users about the face grouping tool. So, if you’re (or were) an Illinois citizen who appears in a Google Photos picture or video between May 1, 2015, and April 25, 2022, you have until September 24, 2022, to file a claim on the settlement’s website.
According to the class-action notification, you might get anywhere from $200-$400, depending on court costs and the number of people who submit a claim. The settlement’s final approval hearing will be held on September 28th.
Google spokesperson José Castaeda stated, “We’re delighted to settle this situation pertaining to particular regulations in Illinois, and we remain dedicated to developing easy-to-use controls for our customers.”
Further stating that “Google Images can group similar faces together to help you arrange photos of the same person so you can discover old photos and memories quickly. Of course, you are the only one who sees this, and you can quickly disable this feature if you like.”
Another class-action case in Illinois resulted in Facebook being compelled to pay $650 million last year. The platform’s now-discontinued Tag Suggestions function, which evaluated users’ faces in photos and suggested who the face may belong to, allegedly gathered and kept biometric data in breach of the state’s biometrics privacy rules.