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Consumers in three recent biometric data privacy cases seek class action status

Consumers in three recent biometric data privacy cases seek class action status
 

Three proposed U.S. class actions involving alleged biometric privacy violations are churning between Chicago and New Orleans. The defendants are Google, dating giant Match Group and, in the newest case, carmaker Subaru.

The cases have kept the litigants busy with motions going back as far as last summer. If history is any judge the outcomes will not favor the defendants.

Google is being sued for personal injury in federal district court for Eastern Louisiana under a 2018 state statute structured much like Illinois’ landmark Biometric Information Privacy Act, according to legal news publisher UniCourt.

A retired hotel executive and an attorney (who is part of the legal team suing Google) alleged in July (2:22-cv-03581-NJB-JVM) that Google has illegally collected and sold Louisianans’ biometric data, according to state and local government news publisher Governing. The case was moved to federal court in September.

Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that Google imported face images from the company’s Photos service to train Google facial recognition algorithms.

Google is expected to file a motion this month to move the case to the U.S. Northern District of California, where the company is based, or to dismiss it for failure to state a claim.

The second proposed class action, involving Match Group, has been removed by defendants to Illinois federal court to seek compensation under BIPA.

According to legal news publisher Class Actions Reporter, the company owns 45 dating companies. The plaintiffs allege that Match Group uses face biometrics to verify identities in violation of BIPA.

One of the company’s holdings, Tinder, uses 3D facial authentication software as part of a member service. Case 2022CH09803 states that subscribers can provide selfies that is checked against profile photos to assure other members that posters are who they say they are. Biometric liveness detection also is performed, allegedly. FaceTec began supplying face biometrics and liveness detection for a Tinder trial earlier in 2022.

The suit was originally filed in state court in October.

The third proposed class action claims that the way Subaru uses its DriverFocus facial recognition function violates BIPA. The auto maker’s attempt to force arbitration on plaintiffs has been rejected.

According to the trade publication Cook County (Ill.) Record, Subaru plays near-infrared light over the faces of people driving certain model cars. The carmaker’s aim is to spot and remedy distracted or drowsy driving.

Individually identifiable face scans are stored on onboard compute devices that, according to the plaintiffs, Subaru “routinely accesses” through its satellite communication channel. The suit alleges that the company does so in violation of BIPA.

It does not warn drivers about capture and storage of their biometrics, nor get their consent to do so, according to case 2021CH05971. Drivers also allegedly are not told how the data is managed or for how long it is held.

An arbitration agreement signed by the lead plaintiff is with the dealer, not the car-maker, the federal judge ruled.

The suit was filed last year, and Subaru has subsequently claimed it does not record biometric data.

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