Google hit with face recognition lawsuit

Google Hit With Class Action Under Illinois Biometric Privacy Law Over Facial Recognition , The Recorder (Feb. 7, 2020).

The case, Molander v. Google LLC (No. 5:20-cv-00918), is a class-action suit filed in the Northern District of California. It alleges that Google Photos’ face-recognition system violates the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. According to the complaint:

Unbeknownst to the average consumer … Google’s proprietary facial recognition technology scans each and every photo uploaded to the cloud-based Google Photos for faces, extracts geometric data relating to the unique points and contours (i.e., biometric identifiers) of each face, and then uses that data to create and store a template of each face – all without ever informing anyone of this practice.

The relevant provision of the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act makes it unlawful for any private entity to

collect, capture, purchase, receive through trade, or otherwise obtain a person's or a customer's biometric identifier or biometric information, unless it first: (1) informs the subject . . . in writing that a biometric identifier or biometric information is being collected or stored; (2) informs the subject . . . in writing of the specific purpose and length of term for which a biometric identifier or biometric information is being collected, stored, and used; and (3) receives a written release executed by the subject of the biometric identifier or biometric information . . . .”

740 ILCS 14/15(b).

Facebook just agreed to settle a similar facial-recognition lawsuit for $550M: Unique Illinois Privacy Law Leads to $550M Facebook Deal, N.Y. Times (Feb. 9, 2020).


Ryan McCarl is a Fellow in Artificial Intelligence Law and Policy at the UCLA School of Law.