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Amazon loses dismissal bid in BIPA case, could face many more plaintiffs

Amazon loses dismissal bid in BIPA case, could face many more plaintiffs

A 2019 biometric privacy lawsuit in the U.S. against Amazon has just gotten more significant. A U.S. district judge last week said the plaintiffs can include everyone who has used Amazon’s Alexa web service.

Amazon lost a bid October 31 to have its Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act case dismissed. Plaintiffs argue that Amazon violates BIPA when Alexa records and analyzes a person’s voiceprint without first getting consent.

In asking for the dismissal, Amazon’s attorneys said Alexa buyers have to agree with documentation stating that their voices will be recorded when using the service. The judge said, however, that notification and consent are not the same.

What’s more, the judge decided that people who did not register to use Alexa services – a visiting neighbor who asks for a weather forecast, for example – can be a plaintiff even if they only used the Alexa service once.

The company’s payout, if the online retailer and cloud vendor loses, could be historic. Companies have been found themselves facing damages of up to $4,000 per violation per plaintiff.

Already, Facebook agreed to pay $650 million in BIPA damages. Google has agreed to pay $100 million.

It’s not all downhill from here for the plaintiffs. They will need to demonstrate that their voice was recorded without a person first consenting.

The judge has found the plaintiffs on shaky footing on some issues even though he has sided with them on those issues, according to an article in trade publication Law360.

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