Court dismisses lawsuit over Google Photos' facial recognition

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member

The plaintiffs were asking for a total of $5 million claiming that Google had violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIFA). The law provides that companies must get written consent before collecting any biometric data including fingerprints and facial scans on residents of the state. It sought $5,000 for every intentional breach of the law and $1,000 for unintentional violations caused by negligence.

Back in 2017, Google tried to have the case thrown out, noted Illinois Policy. It argued the suit was meritless because the company did not perform facial scans on residents, but rather on photos. The Court rejected the motion for summary judgment ruling that photos are covered under BIFA.

According to Reuters, this time, the search giant’s legal team argued that it was not liable for damages against the plaintiffs since they did not suffer any harm from the scans. US District Judge Edmond Chang agreed.

“[The Court lacked] subject matter jurisdiction because the plaintiffs have not suffered concrete injuries,” he said in his ruling.

Even if the case had not been dismissed, it is not certain to have won anyway. Google uses its facial recognition to organize users’ photos by person so they can easily find pictures of their children for example. It even works for pets. Apple uses similar technology in its photos app for macOS.

Both technologies can only group similar pictures if the user has already created a tag linked with the biometric data. It is probable that the court may have considered this tagging a form of consent had the lawsuit gone to trial.

Neither Google nor the plaintiffs were available for comment.

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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Sounds like that judge needs to be thrown out for now following the laws and protecting those that do not consent to having their privacy imposed upon. Sooner or later a few Federal Judges are going to be caught in compromising positions and openly displayed on Google .... at which time they might finally figure out that they are not immune ....
 
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Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Sounds like that judge needs to be thrown out for now following the laws and protecting those that do not consent to having their privacy imposed upon. Sooner or later a few Federal Judges are going to be caught in compromising positions and openly displayed on Google .... at which time they might finally figure out that they are not immune ....
Apparently, you give up your right to privacy as soon as you purchase a smartphone... I’ll do you one better - you gave up your right to privacy as soon as you used the internet.

As I’ve posted many times already, don’t put ANYTHING on your phone or internet that you’re not comfortable having the entire world see!
 
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Evernessince

TS Evangelist
According to this judge's logic, if you fail to rob a bank you should get off free. A crime is a crime, regardless of whether it was successful or immediately caused harm.

I followed the link and read up on the law, it clearly states that the mere collection without consent is a violation of law. Proof of harm is not need and is irrelevant.

Google should be forced to pay the plantiff for collection of their information without consent and it should be fined a large sum for violating state law.

It's ridiculous that donald duck has more protections then people's personal and biometic information.
 

Danny101

TS Guru
Wouldn't this collection, although not Google itself, include the security system of the phone and video chat? There's nothing to stop them from collecting this information when using these features. The ubiquitous of public surveillance systems that acquire your likeness also presents another factor. There's nothing to stop them from going back and running recogntion software. You would have to virtually live like a hermit in the woods to escape.
 

MilwaukeeMike

TS Evangelist
According to this judge's logic, if you fail to rob a bank you should get off free. A crime is a crime, regardless of whether it was successful or immediately caused harm.

I followed the link and read up on the law, it clearly states that the mere collection without consent is a violation of law. Proof of harm is not need and is irrelevant.

Google should be forced to pay the plantiff for collection of their information without consent and it should be fined a large sum for violating state law.

It's ridiculous that donald duck has more protections then people's personal and biometic information.
If you fail to rob a bank, but still broke in, then you are guilty of breaking in, not robbery. If you fail by standing outside and thinking about it... then you're good.

You're right, the law clearly states that collection without consent is a violation. But keep reading. It also states
Biometric identifiers do not include writing samples, written signatures, photographs.
meaning - you have to actually scan the person, not a picture of the person. This is why it was thrown out. It's clearly written in the law that using photos is fine.

Also, proof of harm is almost always needed to get monetary compensation. otherwise what would the compensation be for? If a wheel flies off a truck and hits your car you can sue. But if it misses you, you can't sue. Even though the crime was the same (a flying truck wheel).
 
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Evernessince

TS Evangelist
If you fail to rob a bank, but still broke in, then you are guilty of breaking in, not robbery. If you fail by standing outside and thinking about it... then you're good.

You're right, the law clearly states that collection without consent is a violation. But keep reading. It also states

meaning - you have to actually scan the person, not a picture of the person. This is why it was thrown out. It's clearly written in the law that using photos is fine.

Also, proof of harm is almost always needed to get monetary compensation. otherwise what would the compensation be for? If a wheel flies off a truck and hits your car you can sue. But if it misses you, you can't sue. Even though the crime was the same (a flying truck wheel).
Well first the reason the case was dismissed is clearly stated at the start of the article, as in the judge though there was a lack of damage. Why you are making up imaginary reasons when it's plainly stated is beyond me.

Second, also right near the start of the article

"It argued the suit was meritless because the company did not perform facial scans on residents, but rather on photos. The Court rejected the motion for summary judgment ruling that photos are covered under BIFA."

""Biometric identifier" means a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of hand or face geometry"

So the court already rejected your idea.

"Also, proof of harm is almost always needed to get monetary compensation. otherwise what would the compensation be for? If a wheel flies off a truck and hits your car you can sue. But if it misses you, you can't sue. Even though the crime was the same (a flying truck wheel)"

Apples to oranges.
 

MilwaukeeMike

TS Evangelist
Well first the reason the case was dismissed is clearly stated at the start of the article, as in the judge though there was a lack of damage. Why you are making up imaginary reasons when it's plainly stated is beyond me.
Making it up? Plainly stated? Scroll up!. It says this.
The Court rejected the motion for summary judgment ruling that photos are covered under BIFA.
In the 2nd case it says this ...
“[The Court lacked] subject matter jurisdiction because the plaintiffs have not suffered concrete injuries,”
See it says 'Lacks Jurisdiction" it doesn't say Google is not guilty... it says that the court doesn't have the jurisdiction to hear cases when no one was damaged.
 

MilwaukeeMike

TS Evangelist
""Biometric identifier" means a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of hand or face geometry"

So the court already rejected your idea.

.
It's not my idea... it's right there in the same law you just pasted from. Even if you ignore it.

(pasted from the law linked in the story)
"Biometric identifier" means a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of hand or face geometry. Biometric identifiers do not include writing samples, written signatures, photographs, human biological samples used for valid scientific testing or screening, demographic data, tattoo descriptions, or physical descriptions such as height, weight, hair color, or eye color.
 
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Evernessince

TS Evangelist
Making it up? Plainly stated? Scroll up!. It says this.

In the 2nd case it says this ...
See it says 'Lacks Jurisdiction" it doesn't say Google is not guilty... it says that the court doesn't have the jurisdiction to hear cases when no one was damaged.
This was your original claim

"meaning - you have to actually scan the person, not a picture of the person. This is why it was thrown out. It's clearly written in the law that using photos is fine."

Changing it to "lacks jurisdiction after the fact does nothing. As you just pointed out so nicely, your original claim was indeed not the reason.
 

hk2000

TS Booster
See, if those people only cared about stopping google from doing it, and they're seeking a "cease and desist" court order, I'll be all for it, but when it's clearly a law-firm money grab, as this obviously is, then no, I can't see any merit in that case.