Teen says Apple's facial recognition led to false arrest, sues company for $1 billion

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

NYPD officers arrested Ousmane Bah on November 29th and charged him with stealing equipment from Apple stores in Boston, New Jersey, Delaware, and Manhattan.

The suit claims that the arrest warrant included a photo that didn't resemble Bah, and that the Boston theft, in which $1,200 worth of goods were stolen, took place on the same day in June that he was attending his senior prom in Manhattan. Additionally, a detective who examined the stores’ surveillance footage concluded that Bah “looked nothing like” the thief.

Bah says the error was the result of the real perpetrator using a stolen or lost ID that had his name, address, and other information, but no photo. The lawsuit claims the Apple Store’s facial-recognition system linked Bah’s information with the real thief’s face.

"He was forced to respond to multiple false allegations which led to severe stress and hardship,” said the complaint.

Both Apple and security firm Security Industry Specialists, which is also named as a defendant, have refused to comment on the case.

The New York Post writes that charges against Bah have been dropped in every state except New Jersey, where the case is still pending. The publication notes how the lawsuit argues that Apple's "use of facial recognition software in its stores to track individuals suspected of theft is the type of Orwellian surveillance that consumers fear, particularly as it can be assumed that the majority of consumers are not aware that their faces are secretly being analyzed."

Permalink to story.

 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Well, there is clearly fault here... but to the tune of $1 Billion?!!? I have a suspicion there is far more to this case than what we are being told... And if it's so cut and dry, why hasn't New Jersey not dropped the charges?

I eagerly await the release of more information...
 
  • Like
Reactions: dms96960

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Apple should absolutely be held liable for for $1B? And the state of New Jersey shares blame for not having released him and expunged the arrest record as well. IF they can prove lasting damage to his reputation, earning potential, etc. then an appropriate award is valid, but if he's like most teenagers this will be to his benefit for "bragging rights" to all his buddies ..... maybe he should pay Apple?
Better yet, Apple should be forced to employee him for life (To his maximum SSAN age) as their "Quality & Conscious" director to help them stay on the straight and narrow for the future. Now THAT would be an appropriate watch dog for Apple!
 

ckm88

TS Addict
But think of it this way - he's been wrongly accused, probably has a record now, lawyer fees and what not, the kid is just starting his life and this happens. 1 billion is a bit excessive but the kid deserves some goooooood compensation.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Godel and SalaSSin

Cycloid Torus

Stone age computing - click on the rock below..
Story here is screwy. Unclear how 'facial recognition' is pertinent. Sounds like fake ID is crux. Apparently NYPD detective stated 'Bah “looked nothing like” the thief'. I am sure in this world of stolen identities that this kind of thing happens on a regular basis.
 

ShagnWagn

TS Guru
A billion is frivolous, but at least it might make an impact against the company. Too many companies basically get a slap on the wrist for blatant issue against us - a million dollars is not even pocket change. I have said before that fines and penalties need to be scaled against big and small companies (percentages).

Perhaps this will be a lesson to other companies/governments tracking our personal identities? If this continues, I see the world will continue to monitor every move we make (which google already does with GPS).
 
  • Like
Reactions: wiyosaya

TomSEA

TechSpot Chancellor
Story here is screwy. Unclear how 'facial recognition' is pertinent. Sounds like fake ID is crux. Apparently NYPD detective stated 'Bah “looked nothing like” the thief'. I am sure in this world of stolen identities that this kind of thing happens on a regular basis.
I was thinking the same thing. What does a stolen ID have to do with facial recognition?
 
  • Like
Reactions: dms96960

J spot

TS Maniac
From another article, he said that he lost his picture less learner's permit, with his name and address. The thief got a hold of it.

I highly doubt that the facial recognition is the reason why he became a suspect. Unless Apple had a database of all US citizens and matched him up that way.

If anything, the surveillance, facial recognition exonerated him.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dms96960

Hardware Geek

TS Addict
Apple should absolutely be held liable for for $1B? And the state of New Jersey shares blame for not having released him and expunged the arrest record as well. IF they can prove lasting damage to his reputation, earning potential, etc. then an appropriate award is valid, but if he's like most teenagers this will be to his benefit for "bragging rights" to all his buddies ..... maybe he should pay Apple?
Better yet, Apple should be forced to employee him for life (To his maximum SSAN age) as their "Quality & Conscious" director to help them stay on the straight and narrow for the future. Now THAT would be an appropriate watch dog for Apple!
I fail to see how his age has anything to do with whether or not he was falsely arrested. Assuming he is innocent this could very well cause permanent damage to his ability obtain employment and long term earning potential. $1B is ridiculously high, but it brought public attention to his case, which likely is part of his lawyer's strategy in am attempt to convince Apple to settle the case quickly.
 

kevbev89

TS Maniac
Apple should absolutely be held liable for for $1B? And the state of New Jersey shares blame for not having released him and expunged the arrest record as well. IF they can prove lasting damage to his reputation, earning potential, etc. then an appropriate award is valid, but if he's like most teenagers this will be to his benefit for "bragging rights" to all his buddies ..... maybe he should pay Apple?
Better yet, Apple should be forced to employee him for life (To his maximum SSAN age) as their "Quality & Conscious" director to help them stay on the straight and narrow for the future. Now THAT would be an appropriate watch dog for Apple!
I fail to see how his age has anything to do with whether or not he was falsely arrested. Assuming he is innocent this could very well cause permanent damage to his ability obtain employment and long term earning potential. $1B is ridiculously high, but it brought public attention to his case, which likely is part of his lawyer's strategy in am attempt to convince Apple to settle the case quickly.
Almost certain they will settle this out of court. I agree 100% that this is a PR ploy to garner attention to force Apple to settle. Pretty sure the lawyer guaranteed the teenager he can get him X amount if the lawyer can represent him.
 

brucek

TS Maniac
The article is a little vague about an important point. It is focusing mainly on facial recognition but also includes this tidbit: "real perpetrator using a stolen or lost ID that had his name, address, and other information, but no photo"

If the thief left behind an ID that had the falsely accuseds name and address, wasn't he going to be investigated no matter what? At that point what is the additional impact of the face recognition if any?
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
A billion is frivolous, but at least it might make an impact against the company. Too many companies basically get a slap on the wrist for blatant issue against us - a million dollars is not even pocket change. I have said before that fines and penalties need to be scaled against big and small companies (percentages).

Perhaps this will be a lesson to other companies/governments tracking our personal identities? If this continues, I see the world will continue to monitor every move we make (which google already does with GPS).
While I agree with you, personally, I would argue that with crApple having some $400 billion in the bank, $1 million is pocket change to them. $1 million is something like 25 ten-thousandths of one-percent of their bank account.

I do not see this case as being as much against crApple as it is against facial recognition software in general. It highlights the problems with facial recognition where any face can be paired with any name - especially if identity theft is in play.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ShagnWagn

Manrubio

TS Rookie
Obviosly the 1 Billion lawsuit is just a tactic lawyers use to get as much money as possible.

A lot of people can comment on the topic but I was once a victim as this gentleman was.

I was wronly accussed of something I did not do.. I was not arrested but there was an attempt to arrest me at my home ( Luckly I was not home when it happened) but it was a very disturbing moment for my family and neighbors.

I hope apple gets what it deserves.
Hope this boy gets what he deserves.
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
While I agree with you, personally, I would argue that with crApple having some $400 billion in the bank, $1 million is pocket change to them. $1 million is something like 25 ten-thousandths of one-percent of their bank account.

I do not see this case as being as much against crApple as it is against facial recognition software in general. It highlights the problems with facial recognition where any face can be paired with any name - especially if identity theft is in play.
A billion is still crazy... no one is getting that in a lawsuit... heck, people who've been wrongfully imprisoned for years don't get a fraction of that when they're found innocent after the fact!

Once again, I believe there is crucial information missing from this article - I really want to know why New Jersey hasn't cancelled their charges...
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
A billion is still crazy... no one is getting that in a lawsuit... heck, people who've been wrongfully imprisoned for years don't get a fraction of that when they're found innocent after the fact!

Once again, I believe there is crucial information missing from this article - I really want to know why New Jersey hasn't cancelled their charges...
I really don't expect him to get that amount, and only his lawyer knows why they are asking for that amount of money - part of which would go to the lawyer.

As to Jersey, who knows? Maybe there is some sort of law that must be fulfilled before dropping the charges.

@midian182 I think it would be interesting if you were to update us on this.