A proposed class action alleges Lightricks’ Facetune Editor photo-editing app illegally collects, stores and uses consumers’ biometric data without consent.
The 22-page case claims that Facetune, one of the most popular iOS and Android apps, has violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) by failing to obtain express written permission before capturing and retaining users’ biometric information, including their facial geometry, features, patterns and expressions.
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Once users upload pictures from their phones to the app, Facetune uses “complex algorithms” and “artificial intelligence” to scan and collect their facial geometries, the suit says. The case explains that consumers can then choose from an array of editing options to , for example, remove blemishes, whiten teeth, smoothen skin, or fix red-eye.
Lightricks even states on its app that “we scan all your images in your camera roll, and we may collect and process information on the … location and characteristics of faces or other face parts (eyes, lip, etc.) that appear in an image or video, and the number, estimated age and gender of people in the image or video,” the complaint relays.
The filing stresses that the BIPA was enacted in 2008 to protect Illinois consumers from the harms associated with the unauthorized collection of biometric data.
“The use of a biometric scanning system entails serious risks. Unlike other methods of identification, facial geometry is a permanent, unique biometric identifier associated with an individual. This exposes individuals to serious and irreversible privacy risks. For example, if a device or database containing individuals’ facial geometry data is hacked, breached, or otherwise exposed, individuals have no means by which to prevent identity theft and unauthorized tracking.”
Under the BIPA, private entities are prohibited from obtaining consumers’ biometrics unless they notify the individual in writing of the “specific purpose and length of term for which such biometric identifiers or information are being collected, stored, and used,” the suit says. To store biometrics, companies must also receive a prior written release from the consumer and maintain publicly available written retention schedules and guidelines for permanently destroying biometric data, the case explains.
Likewise, the plaintiffs, three Illinois parents, allege that Lightricks has collected the biometric data of their children, ages four, 10 and 13, who have used Facetune to edit photos of themselves.
The lawsuit looks to cover Illinois residents whose biometric data was captured, collected, received or otherwise obtained and/or stored by Lightricks through the Facetune Editor app during the applicable statute of limitations period.
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