Microsoft Use of Facial Recognition Data BIPA Illinois Class Action

Facial recognition is an up-and-coming area of technology that both offers companies a potentially lucrative business and raises questions about individuals’ privacy. The complaint for this class action alleges that Microsoft Corporation, in its efforts to succeed in this market, has violated Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

The class for this action is all Illinois residents whose faces are included in the Diversity in Faces data set obtained by Microsoft.

According to the complaint, “In recent years, an ‘arms race’ has developed amongst for-profit companies seeking to become market leaders in the facial recognition arena. Critical to winning this battle has been [] the ability to claim a low identification error rate—i.e., the for-profit companies want to herald the accuracy of their products, including accuracy in identifying [women] and people of color.”

Facial geometry programs measure “distances between key facial landmarks and ratios between those distances.”

To properly train such programs, they must be “fed” with many images of a diverse variety of faces. Companies have begun taking photographic images off the Internet, without the permission of the subject or the photographer.

The complaint alleges that in 2014, the photo-sharing website Flickr put together around 100 million photos into a data set that it then made publicly available.

In 2019, IBM created a similar data set of one million images from Flickr called Diversity in Faces. It made this data set available to for-profit companies, who had to apply to IBM for permission to use it. Microsoft applied and obtained permission.

Among the photos in the data set were images of Illinois residents, including the two plaintiffs in this case. The plaintiffs claim that Microsoft “collected, obtained, stored, used, possessed and profited from” their biometric identifiers and information, via scans of their facial geometry.

BIPA sets out some first-step rules for the taking, storage, use, and so on of biometric information. Among other things, it requires the following of private entities like Microsoft:

  • That it may not collect or obtain biometric identifiers or information without providing written notice and getting a written release.
  • That it may not profit from individual’s biometric identifiers or information.
  • That it is required to develop at written policy that is available to the public that sets up a retention schedule and guidelines for the permanent destruction of the biometric identifiers and information.

The complaint alleges that Microsoft profited from the biometric identifiers and information in the data set, because it allowed the company to improve its facial recognition software. It also claims that Microsoft did not follow BIPA’s rules for obtaining biometric identifiers or information in obtaining the images of people from Flickr.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Microsoft Use of Facial Recognition Data BIPA Illinois Complaint

July 14, 2020

Facial recognition is an up-and-coming area of technology that both offers companies a potentially lucrative business and raises questions about individuals’ privacy. The complaint for this class action alleges that Microsoft Corporation, in its efforts to succeed in this market, has violated Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

Microsoft Use of Facial Recognition Data BIPA Illinois Complaint

Case Event History

Microsoft Use of Facial Recognition Data BIPA Illinois Complaint

July 14, 2020

Facial recognition is an up-and-coming area of technology that both offers companies a potentially lucrative business and raises questions about individuals’ privacy. The complaint for this class action alleges that Microsoft Corporation, in its efforts to succeed in this market, has violated Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

Microsoft Use of Facial Recognition Data BIPA Illinois Complaint
Tags: Biometric Data, Taking/Storing/Using Biometric Data, Using Your Private Information Without Consent, Your Privacy