TikTok Facial Geometry Scans Violation of BIPA Illinois Class Action

This class action against Tik-Tok, Inc. and its parent company ByteDance, Inc. alleges that the Tik-Tok app scans, stores, and uses the facial geometry information of individuals in videos that are posted and from uses of its “effects” features that allow users to change their faces. The complaint brings suit under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The plaintiff is a minor, “SW,” with the suit brought through her guardian, Jason Williams.

The class for this action is all individuals whose biometric identifiers or biometric information were taken or stored by TikTok and ByteDance, via the individuals’ use of TikTok in Illinois during the applicable statute of limitations period.

Biometric information is being used more and more often, for example, for employee time-keeping purposes. However, biometric identifiers and information present even more serious security problems than information like Social Security numbers or credit card information. If your credit card information is stolen, you can cancel that card and get another. But if your fingerprints are compromised, you cannot get a different set of fingers.

According to the complaint, TikTok has a number of ways to access, scan, and collect an individual’s facial geometry, including allowing users to upload videos of themselves lip-syncing and dancing to songs, making scans of the faces of people other than the user in such videos, and applying effects such as “face sticker,” “face filter,” and “face tracking.”

The effects scan the user’s face so that effects can be placed over it, or so that the face can be changed or replaced by some other image. The complaint says, “As Defendant ByteDance Inc.’s representatives have admitted, Defendants’ TikTok application engages in ‘facial recognition for the filters.’”

TikTok’s facial recognition programs are advanced enough—and intrusive enough—that the complaint claims that the application “even has a feature that allows users to select someone’s face in a video and use the application’s facial recognition technology to identify other videos featuring that person.”

The complaint charges that the companies’ “facial recognition technology scans each video a user uploads for faces, extracts facial geometric data for each face appearing in the video, and stores on [their] servers a facial geometric template for each face it identifies. However, [they] have never publicly disclosed where or for how long they retain such facial geometric templates of when [they] destroy them, if ever.”

This complaint refers to Section 15(a) of BIPA, which requires that private entities that hold biometric information set forth a publicly-available policy stating how long the data will be retained and when it will be destroyed. According to the complaint, TikTok does not meet even this basic requirement.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

TikTok Facial Geometry Scans Violation of BIPA Illinois Complaint

November 12, 2020

This class action against Tik-Tok, Inc. and its parent company ByteDance, Inc. alleges that the Tik-Tok app scans, stores, and uses the facial geometry information of individuals in videos that are posted and from uses of its “effects” features that allow users to change their faces. The complaint brings suit under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The plaintiff is a minor, “SW,” with the suit brought through her guardian, Jason Williams.

TikTok Facial Geometry Scans Violation of BIPA Illinois Complaint

Case Event History

TikTok Facial Geometry Scans Violation of BIPA Illinois Complaint

November 12, 2020

This class action against Tik-Tok, Inc. and its parent company ByteDance, Inc. alleges that the Tik-Tok app scans, stores, and uses the facial geometry information of individuals in videos that are posted and from uses of its “effects” features that allow users to change their faces. The complaint brings suit under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The plaintiff is a minor, “SW,” with the suit brought through her guardian, Jason Williams.

TikTok Facial Geometry Scans Violation of BIPA Illinois Complaint
Tags: Biometric Data, Taking/Storing/Using Biometric Data, Your Privacy