Snap settles case for $35M as BIPA trips up Amazon and adult entertainment purveyors
Snap (parent of Snapchat) has agreed to settle a biometric data privacy complaint with a class of Illinois users for $35 million.
August is ending with a wave of court news, including a dispatch about strip clubs, perhaps the original personal information collector. None of the other developments are necessarily good news for companies, including Amazon, either.
Four cases are making headlines this week, all involving the U.S. state of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires businesses to get the consent of state residents before collecting identifiers and explaining to residents the management of the data.
Snap reaches settlement
The settlement reached in a biometric privacy case filed against Snap will pay each eligible resident between $58 and $117, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Eligible residents include anyone who lived in Illinois and used the social media app since November 17, 2015. Claims are due November 5.
The company does not admit committing a violation of BIPA in the settlement, and reiterated its denial that its “Lenses” collect biometric data that can be used to identify individuals.
The lawsuit’s history wrangling with BIPA goes back at least to 2016, and the settlement proceedings overlap with a possible stay.
An article in trade publication Law Street Media says that Snap filed a motion to call a temporary halt with the Illinois federal judge hearing its case involving dozens of plaintiffs. They allege in a proposed class action that Snapchat collected members’ face biometrics without their consent.
Nearly three dozen individuals have been suing Snap Inc. for biometric privacy violations resulting from their use of its popular social media app Snapchat. Snap’s Tuesday-filed motion before an Illinois federal court says that a question critical to the plaintiffs’ ability to plead jurisdiction should soon be answered by the state’s highest court.
Not only is Snap contesting the alleged harm, but the company also rejects the idea that if guilty, it would have to pay $1,000 per violating scan – not just the original capture.
The Illinois Supreme Court is deciding a matter related to this principle, and Snap wants to put its months-old case on hold until a decision here is rendered.
The settlement was reached and preliminarily approved before the motion to pause the case was filed, the Tribune reports.
The final approval hearings for the settlement are scheduled to be held in mid-November.
More plaintiffs, one less insurer
The only new case here charges the operators of at least six adult night clubs in Belleville, a small city outside St. Louis, Mo., with allegedly collecting and storing their customers’ biometric information without getting their consent.
The plaintiffs, Hasan Agicic and Jacob Kline, also claim the defendants did not securely store their identifiers.
Their proposed class action names Family Dog, HWL-3, VCG Holding, Illinois Restaurant Concepts and MRC, according to the local newspaper, the Madison – St. Clair Record.
The case name is Jacob Kline et al v. Family Dog, LLC et al., St. Clair County Circuit Court case 22LA543. The defendants are seeking the maximum damages — $5,000 for each willful violation and $1,000 for every negligent violation.
In a case that is more technical, a federal judge says an insurer need not pay for the defense of a nursing home caught up in a BIPA court case.
The Cook County (Ill.) Record has reported that U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras agreed with Church Mutual Insurance that none of its policies held by Prairie Village Supportive Living cover the insurer to pay Prairie Village’s legal defense.
Each policy, according to the judge, carried coverage exemptions for violations of laws by employers and employment-related practices. There also was a cyber liability exclusion in the general liability policy.
The ruling adds to a small but growing list of decisions clearing insurers of liability for BIPA complaints against their clients in some, but not all circumstances.
Last, a federal judge said no to Amazon’s motion to pause one of the BIPA cases it is fighting.
According to reporting by MediaPost, U.S. District Court Judge John Chun in Seattle was asked by Amazon to prevent the discovery process of student-plaintiff Jacinda Dorian while Chun considered Amazon’s motion to dismiss the case.
Dorian maintains that she was required to present her face and ID in order to gain access to a test through ProctorU’s remote proctoring application. Her identifiers, she said, were uploaded to Web Services and that Amazon used its Rekognition facial recognition algorithm on her image.
No consent was sought, Dorian alleges.
Amazon wants a dismissal because, in its eyes, it was simply providing a back-end service.
Chun refused to grant a stay, according to MediaPost, because he is not convinced that Amazon will win a dismissal, so the case should proceed as it normally would.
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