A proposed class action claims Amazon has violated an Illinois privacy law by collecting scans of consumers’ facial features through its virtual “try-on” programs.
Per the lawsuit, Illinois residents who use Amazon’s virtual try-on feature to view how certain products would look on their faces were never informed that their biometric information, i.e., scans of their facial geometry, would be collected and stored by defendants Amazon.com, Inc. and Amazon.com Services LLC. Moreover, Amazon never obtained the consumers’ express written consent to collect their sensitive biometric information nor informed them of how and when the data would be destroyed, the suit alleges.
According to the case, these are all requirements of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), a state law designed to protect Illinois residents from the unauthorized use of their biometrics. The suit stresses that because biometrics (i.e., fingerprints, iris and retina scans, and hand and face geometry) are unique identifiers, the unauthorized use and exposure of such places the individual at a heightened risk of identity theft.
By failing to adhere to the BIPA’s strict requirements, Amazon has violated the privacy of “thousands if not millions of unwitting Illinois residents” who’ve used the retailer’s try-on programs, the lawsuit alleges.
The case explains that Amazon’s virtual try-on programs, which are available on the Amazon.com website and the company’s apps, use augmented reality technology to allow consumers to view how products such as makeup would look on their faces in person. To use the feature, the user must upload a picture of their face or use their camera to take a new photo or live video of their face, the suit relays. Amazon then scans the image and uses “facial geometry or landmarks from the photo or live video” to place the virtual product on the face in the photo or video, according to the complaint. Through this process, Amazon calculates a “unique digital map” of the person’s face, i.e, a face template, that is then stored in the defendants’ database, the case says.
“This is all an automated process that occurs without the user’s involvement or consent whenever a photograph is taken or uploaded or a live video is used in connection with the Virtual Try-On Programs,” the lawsuit alleges.
According to the suit, because users are unable to disable the collection of their facial templates when using the virtual try-on programs, use of the feature is conditioned on the collection of biometrics. The case claims Amazon has collected the biometrics of all users who appear in photos or videos uploaded through the program, including minors who are “incapable of providing informed consent.”
Per the case, Amazon’s collection of consumers’ biometrics has violated the BIPA given the retailer failed to:
Inform the individuals in writing of the specific purpose and length of time for which their biometric information would be collected and stored;
Secure a written release from the individuals to collect, store and use their information; and
Publish a publicly available retention schedule and guidelines for the permanent destruction of the data.
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone who, while residing in Illinois, had their biometric identifiers or information “collected, captured, received or otherwise obtained” by Amazon in connection with the use of its virtual try-on features.
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