A class action alleges Samsung has violated an Illinois privacy law by collecting, capturing, storing and using without consent the facial scans of individuals who appear in photos stored on Samsung devices.
A proposed class action alleges Samsung Electronics America has violated a novel Illinois privacy law by automatically collecting, capturing, storing and using without consent the facial scans of individuals who appear in photos stored on Samsung devices in the state.
The 22-page case claims Samsung has run afoul of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), a state law that requires private entities who deal in consumers’ biometric information, i.e., fingerprints and retinal and facial scans, to obtain informed written consent and provide requisite data retention and destruction disclosures.
Per the complaint, Samsung has collected, captured, stored and used through its pre-installed Gallery App the biometrics of “millions of unwitting Illinois residents”—users, non-users and minors alike—who appear in photos stored on Samsung devices without first providing notice, obtaining informed written consent, or publishing retention or destruction disclosures.
The case more specifically claims Samsung, through its Gallery App, creates face templates using sophisticated facial recognition technology that analyzes and extracts the points and contours of the faces that appear in photos stored on Samsung devices. Each facial template constitutes a “biometric identifier,” the suit says.
“All of this occurs automatically through a ‘background’ process in the Gallery App, without the knowledge or informed written consent of the user, let alone anyone else who appears in the photographs stored on Samsung Devices,” the lawsuit alleges, stating that Samsung’s Gallery App cannot be removed or modified by a device user.
Per the case, Samsung’s Gallery App uses facial templates to organize and sort photos based on who appears in each image. This is done by comparing the face templates of individuals who appear in newly-stored photos against those already saved in the facial database, the complaint says. If there’s a match, the Gallery App will group newly-uploaded photos with previous photos depicting the same individual, the lawsuit states.
According to the suit, Samsung users cannot disable this feature, prevent Samsung from “harvesting” biometric identifiers or opt out of the process. Moreover, modifying or altering Samsung’s software so as to disable facial recognition is prohibited by the company’s end user licensing agreements, per the case.
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