Biometric privacy suits leveled against IBM and Clearview AI in Illinois
Potential class action lawsuits have been filed against IBM and Clearview AI for alleged violations of the Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), as strikingly different projects are drawn into similar entanglements with privacy regulation.
The suit against IBM, shared by Bloomberg Law, alleges that subjects appearing in the company’s Diversity in Faces (DiF) Dataset who reside in Illinois have had their informed consent rights under BIPA violated by the company, which collected images from Flickr and then annotated them. The suit is filed on behalf of all Flickr users in Illinois whose photos are found in the dataset, and who did not consent to the biometric data analysis and storage.
When the DiF Dataset was launched, IBM Fellow and Manager of AI Tech Dr. John Smith told Biometric Update that it represented an important step towards improving the fairness and accuracy of facial recognition algorithms.
After concerns were aired about the source of images used in the dataset, IBM said that it would cooperate with requests to remove URLs from the images.
The case has been filed in Cook County Court.
Just days after being ordered to delete data and cease its image-collection practices by Twitter, Clearview AI is facing a BIPA lawsuit which may be only the tip of the iceberg, for collecting the facial biometrics of Illinois residents without consent, MediaPost reports.
The company has been selling its database to police departments around the U.S., according to the New York Times.
“Without obtaining any consent and without notice, Defendant Clearview used the internet to covertly gather information on millions of American citizens, collecting approximately three billion pictures of them, without any reason to suspect any of them of having done anything wrong, ever,” plaintiff David Mutnick of Illinois alleges in the complaint, which was filed in federal court. “After obtaining these images, Clearview used artificial intelligence algorithms to scan the facial geometry of each individual depicted in the images, a technique that violates multiple privacy laws.”
In addition to damages the plaintiff is seeking a court order to have the distribution of the data stopped, and the images deleted.
Attorney Jay Edelson, who does not represent Mutnick but has brought cases against tech companies previously, also expects to file suit against Clearview AI, according to the report. Edelson also intends to seek a court order closing down the company.
“I do not believe that what they’re doing is proper, and we feel very good about being able to explain that to a court,” he told MediaPost.
Defense strategies against BIPA suits are still evolving, but the Supreme Court recently made clear in a decision against Facebook that federal courts will recognize the legal standing criteria established by the state’s legislation.