* Greg Bensinger writing for the New York Times…
The facial recognition company Clearview AI agreed in a settlement this month to stop selling its massive database of photographs culled from the internet to private firms across the United States. That decision is a direct result of a lawsuit in Illinois, a demonstration that strong privacy laws in a single state can have nationwide ramifications.
The Biometric Information Privacy Act of Illinois sets strict limits on the collection and distribution of personal biometric data, like fingerprints and iris and face scans. The Illinois law is considered among the nation’s strongest, because it limits how much data is collected, requires consumers’ consent and empowers them to sue the companies directly, a right typically limited to the states themselves. While it applies only to Illinois residents, the Clearview case, brought in 2020 by the American Civil Liberties Union, shows that effective statutes can help bring some of Big Tech’s more invasive practices to heel.
Technology companies are in a feverish race to develop reliable means to automate the identification of people through facial scans, thumbprints, palm prints and other personal biometric data. The data is considered particularly valuable because unlike, say, credit card info or home addresses, it cannot be changed. But as these data companies profit by deploying the technology to police departments, federal agencies and a host of private entities, consumers are left with no real guarantees that their personal information is protected.
Facial recognition software, in particular, has been shown to fail too often at identifying people of color, leading in some cases to wrongful arrests and concerns that the software could put up additional barriers to people seeking jobs, unemployment benefits or home loans.
Because the United States lacks meaningful federal privacy protections, states have passed a patchwork of laws that are largely favorable to corporations. By contrast, Europe passed the General Data Protection Regulation six years ago, restricting the online collection and sharing of personal data, despite a tremendous lobbying push against it by the tech companies.
I didn’t fill out the paperwork for the Facebook settlement, but, in full disclosure, I did sign up for a settlement against RayBan…
A proposed settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act regarding biometric facial geometry allegedly collected from consumers who used the Virtual Try-On Application Tool on RayBan.com. The case is Vo v. Luxottica of America Inc., Case No. 2019-CH-10946, currently pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Chancery Division. The proposed Settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing by the Defendant, and the Defendant denies that it violated the law. The Court has not decided who is right or wrong. Rather, to save the time, expense, and distraction of litigation, the parties have agreed to settle the lawsuit. That Settlement has been preliminarily approved.
I used that app several times when I was looking for new shades.
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