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Snapchat sued for allegedly violating Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA)

July 18, 2016
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Snapchat faces a class action lawsuit accusing it of violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”). The suit centers around the Snapchat app’s “lenses” feature, which allows the app to draw animated additions to a person’s face.

The suit alleges Snapchat violated BIPA because its “proprietary facial recognition technology scans a user’s face . . . and collects, stores and uses, geometric data relating to the unique points and contours (i.e., biometric identifiers) of each face.”

Additionally, the suit alleges Snapchat never informed its users of the “specific purpose and length of term for which their biometric identifiers or information would be collected, stored and used, nor did Snapchat obtain a written consent or release from any of these users.” The suit further alleges “Snapchat does not have written, publicly available policies identifying its retention schedules or guidelines for permanently destroying users’ biometric identifiers or information.”

BIPA requires software companies to inform its users “in writing that a biometric identifier or biometric information is being collected or stored.” Additionally, the Act requires companies to disclose the “length of term for which a biometric identifier or biometric information is being collected, stored, and used.” Most importantly, the Act requires companies to “receive[] a written release executed by the subject of the biometric identifier or biometric information.”

Last year, Facebook faced a similar class action lawsuit brought under the same Illinois law.

Case info: Martinez et al v. Snapchat, Inc., case number 2:16-cv-05182, out of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Corey Varma

Corey Varma is a third-year law student at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. He is interested in Information Technology and Privacy, Cyberspace, Social Media, and Intellectual Property law.

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