Law Street Media

Illinois Snapchatters Assert BIPA Claims Against Snap Inc.

A close-up of a camera lens.

Camera zoom lens zooming in and out to focus a sharp image and to capture a photograph or video

According to a complaint filed on Wednesday three Snapchat app users have filed suit against its operator Snap Inc. over violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The Chicago, Ill. filing says that the app’s “Lenses” feature, among other filters and features, unlawfully captures and stores users’ unique face prints without their consent.

The 33-page complaint explains that Snap, which self describes as a “camera company,” operates Snapchat, “‘a camera application that was created to help people communicate through short videos and images called ‘Snaps.’” 

Snap allegedly acquired Looksery Inc., a company that developed an app which uses facial recognition technology to capture and modify a person’s facial features in real-time. Snap integrated the app, turning it into the Snapchat feature referred to as “Lenses.” The filing argues that the Lenses feature involves the “collection, use, modification, monetization and/or storage” of a user’s unique face print in violation of BIPA. 

The Illinois user plaintiffs also claim that Snap’s disclosures fall short of complying with the BIPA mandate requiring companies to disclose how they collect and monetize users’ biometric information. According to the complaint, Snap’s most recent privacy policy acknowledges that through various integrations users “‘may be providing information to the third party as well as to Snap,’” but does not “fully explain what types of information is shared with unidentified third-parties.”

The lawsuit says that though Snap’s terms of use contain an arbitration clause, more than 40 million Illinois residents, potential class members, have opted out of it. The suit states four claims for relief and seeks liquidated damages for Snap’s negligent and intentional/reckless violations of BIPA as well as injunctive relief.

The plaintiffs are represented by Sulaiman Law Group Ltd.

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