One biometric data privacy case dismissed, two more pared back by judges
The ground under lawsuits alleging violations of Illinois’ landmark biometric privacy law shifted slightly this week after developments in three cases.
Two of the cases, one involving IBM and another Google, likely hold little import because the judges agreed with the companies that some claims were duplicates.
The third case was a qualified win for companies defending their use of facial recognition and other biometric systems. Illinois resident James Allen voluntarily dismissed his case alleging violations of the Biometric Information Privacy Act.
(Just days ago, a federal judge ruled in a case involving the act that Clearview AI cannot defend its biometric data collection practices by citing the First Amendment.)
In an amended complaint in 2020, Allen claimed his biometric data was gathered as he walked Chicago’s United Center at a Blackhawks hockey game. That collection and later storage, he said in a proposed class action, was done without express consent.
It is not immediately known what broke the impasse or why Allen moved to dismiss his case with prejudice, which means that he waives the right to retry his claims again.
An article in TSN, a sports news publisher, notes that Allen’s game ticket carries a disclaimer releasing every possible person and organization involved with a Blackhawks game from liability in any court.
As for the other two cases, both involve sprawling lawsuits that judges felt needed to be pared.
In one, a U.S. District Court judge for Illinois’ northern district dismissed several claims because they duplicated other claims in the proposed class action. In deciding on the matter, Judge Charles Kocoras sided with the defendant, IBM.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs Tim Janecyk and Steven Vance in 2020 accused IBM of using its so-called Diversity in Faces dataset in ways that violated the Illinois law. The dataset was part of an effort by IBM to understand how bias turns up in biometric algorithms.
Laudable intentions aside, the plaintiffs argued that IBM did not getting permission to release the dataset as is required by the law.
Amended filings by their attorneys in April, according to Bloomberg Law, were duplicative, according to IBM, and Kocoras agreed this week.
A similar case filed against Google was cut back as well.
According to industry publisher Law360, a U.S. Seventh Circuit Court judge in Illinois stayed a federal class action in favor of a largely similar case filed by the plaintiffs in Illinois state court.
Google is accused of creating templates of people’s faces in ways that violate the state’s privacy law, including not getting informed consent or making data-retention schedules public.
The federal judge in the case, Edmond Chang said letting both cases progress would result in piecemeal litigation. Chang also said the Illinois court is competent to handle the dispute.
In 2018, he decided, in the original federal case, that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue in his court. An appellate court later remanded the case, but only the arguments about informed consent, according to an earlier Law360 article.