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Biometric privacy claim against Pindrop and Amazon dismissed for lack of jurisdiction

Facebook settlement targeted by alleged false advertisements
Biometric privacy claim against Pindrop and Amazon dismissed for lack of jurisdiction

Amazon and Pindrop did not violate biometric privacy law in Illinois by capturing data for voice recognition from people when they called insurer John Hancock, which uses AWS’ Amazon Connect, a federal court judge has ruled according to Law360.

The putative class action alleged that Amazon had passed voice data from its call center service to Pindrop for conversion into biometric data, but the judge dismissed the charges against both companies on grounds that none of the alleged events took place in Illinois after the plaintiffs had dialed their telephones. The plaintiffs allege Amazon did not satisfy the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act’s (BIPA’s) informed consent requirements. John Hancock, as a financial institution, is exempt from BIPA.

The degree of presence that companies, and third parties supplying biometric technology in particular, must have in the state to establish plaintiffs’ standing has been clarified this year by other BIPA defenses.

“Moreover, there is no indication that either of these companies purposefully directed their activities at Illinois citizens or that this litigation arises from contacts they created with Illinois,” U.S. District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel of the Southern District of Illinois wrote in the decision, Law360 reports. “Rather, the litigation arises because John Hancock, a third party based in Massachusetts, contracted with AWS and Pindrop to analyze the voices of its customers. The fact that plaintiffs called John Hancock from Illinois using their own Illinois phone numbers is insufficient to confer specific personal jurisdiction over the foreign defendants.”

The suit was dismissed without prejudice, so it could potentially be refiled in another jurisdiction.

Facebook

A law firm is being accused of misleading advertising related to Facebook’s $650 million BIPA settlement by class counsel, who have filed an emergency motion for a restraining order to have the ads taken down, Law.com reports.

The three firms representing plaintiffs as lead counsel in the case claim that firm Levi & Korsinsky, which has no connection to the case, began running advertisements on September 11 inviting people to “Sign up for a Facebook Illegal Facial Recognition Claim.” They further say that at least 800 people have seen it, and maybe tens of thousands.

Actual notices to class members are expected to be received soon, which makes it urgent for the ads to be taken down, according to one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

The ads direct people to a Levi & Korsinsky website, on which they compare the settlements’ estimated $200 to $400 per class member to BIPA’s potential damages of up to $5,000, and suggest that by opting out of the class action and settlement, they may be able to receive more in damages.

Potential class members can opt out of the settlement until November 23. The motion notes that the website asks people to sign up with Levi & Korsinsky before providing opt-out information.

Class counsel writes in the motion that the advertising campaign is “plainly designed to confuse class members into filling out Levi & Korsinsky’s form instead of the real claim form.”

Meanwhile, Facebook has been accused in a U.S. federal court of taking pictures with the cameras of Instagram users even when the software was not actively being used, Bloomberg reports.

Users received notifications that Instagram was accessing iPhone cameras, but the company says the notifications were false, and caused by a since-fixed bug.

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