Privacy & Data Security Law News

Amazon, Microsoft Say Facial Recognition Lawsuits Mistarget Them

Sept. 15, 2020, 4:59 PM

Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. say an Illinois biometric privacy law doesn’t apply to suits that claim the companies used photos without permission to develop facial recognition technology.

Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act doesn’t apply to company conduct outside of that state, Amazon and Microsoft said in filings Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The photos at issue are part of International Business Machines Corp.'s “diversity in faces” dataset, which has been made available for research to eradicate racial and gender bias in facial recognition. Two people leading two potential class actions claim their faces were some of those used in the dataset.

The Amazon and Microsoft filings show that the companies take issue with the lawsuits’ attempt to hold them liable for penalties under the Illinois law, even though IBM is accused of including the individuals’ images in the dataset.

Amazon and Microsoft said the suits also fail to show they have profited off their biometric data, the companies’ nearly identical filings say.

The same two people have sued IBM in an Illinois court, alleging violations of the state’s biometric privacy law. Alphabet Inc.'s Google also faces a lawsuit similar to the ones against Amazon and Microsoft.

The cases are Vance et al v. Amazon.com Inc., W.D. Wash., No. 2:20-cv-01084, 9/14/20 and Vance et al v. Microsoft Corp., W.D. Wash., No. 2:20-cv-01082, 9/14/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Vittorio in Washington at avittorio@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com; Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com;

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