Instagram Collection of Facial Geometry Scans BIPA Class Action

Facebook, Inc. has many subsidiaries, including Instagram. Facebook agreed recently to pay $650 million to settle a class action about its original Facebook platform, alleging that, as this complaint puts it, “illegally harvesting the protected biometrics of users…” In this case, the complaint alleges that Facebook did the same with the biometrics of Instagram users.

The class for this action is all Illinois residents who had their biometric identifiers, including facial geometry scans, collected, captured, received, or otherwise obtained by Facebook through photos uploaded on the Instagram app.

Instagram had more than 118 million users in the US alone in 2019. It permits users to share photos and videos, direct messages, and short-term photos and videos called “stories” which are removed after twenty-four hours.

The complaint claims Facebook has admitted that it collects biometrics from Instagram photos and videos. “Its facial recognition software works by scanning faces of unnamed people in photos or videos to analyze details of individuals’ faces and creating a corresponding ‘face template’ for each face, and then storing that fact template for later use and/or matching it to those already in a database of identified people.”

Although Facebook claims that users are in charge of that process, the complaint says, this is not true because their faces may be scanned in images posted by other users, even if their own facial recognition setting is turned off.

The law at issue in this class action is the Illinois Biometric Privacy Information Act (BIPA). It requires that private entities that wish to collect biometric information do a number of things:

  • They must inform the subject that the biometric identifier is being collected or stored.
  • They must inform the subject of the specific purpose and length of term for which the biometrics will be collected, stored, and used.
  • They must get a written release from the subject.

BIPA also requires that they must develop a written policy that they make available to the public with a retention schedule and guidelines for permanently destroying any biometrics collected once the initial purpose has been satisfied or within three years of the last interaction with the subject, whichever comes first.

The complaint alleges, “Facebook surreptitiously captures its Instagram users’ protected biometrics without their informed consent, and worse yet, without actually informing them of its practice. Upon information and belief, once Facebook captures its Instagram users’ protected biometrics, it uses them to bolster its facial recognition abilities across all of its products … and shares this information among various entities. Facebook does all of this without providing any of the required notices or disclosures required by Illinois law.”

While Facebook posts a California Privacy Notice that informs users that it collects biometrics, the complaint alleges that it’s an after-the-fact notice that does not offer any opt-out provision up front and cannot meet the requirements of BIPA.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Instagram Collection of Facial Geometry Scans BIPA Complaint

August 14, 2020

Facebook, Inc. operates its own well-known social media platform and owns many other subsidiaries, including Instagram. Facebook agreed recently to pay $650 million to settle a class action alleging that, as this complaint puts it, “illegally harvesting the protected biometrics of users…” In this case, the complaint alleges that Facebook did the same with the biometrics of Instagram users.

Instagram Collection of Facial Geometry Scans BIPA Complaint

Case Event History

Instagram Collection of Facial Geometry Scans BIPA Complaint

August 14, 2020

Facebook, Inc. operates its own well-known social media platform and owns many other subsidiaries, including Instagram. Facebook agreed recently to pay $650 million to settle a class action alleging that, as this complaint puts it, “illegally harvesting the protected biometrics of users…” In this case, the complaint alleges that Facebook did the same with the biometrics of Instagram users.

Instagram Collection of Facial Geometry Scans BIPA Complaint
Tags: Biometric Data, Facial Scans, Taking/Storing/Using Biometric Data, Your Privacy