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IBM Trims Privacy Lawsuit Over Its ‘Diversity in Faces’ Dataset

Sept. 1, 2021, 3:24 PM

International Business Machines Corp. persuaded a federal judge to trim Biometric Information Privacy Act claims from a proposed class action it’s facing in the Northern District of Illinois.

Several of the claims from plaintiffs Steven Vance and Tim Janecyk are dismissed because they’re “duplicative” of one of their existing BIPA claims, Judge Charles P. Kocoras wrote in an order filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Attorneys representing Vance and Janecyk didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Vance sued IBM in January 2020, accusing the tech company of violating BIPA with its “diversity in faces” dataset, which the company used to study bias in artificial intelligence.

The company released that set of people’s faces without first obtaining proper permission in violation of BIPA, Vance alleged.

IBM in April moved to dismiss several of their claims from an amended complaint Vance and Janecyk had filed, arguing that they were duplicative of an existing BIPA claim.

Kocoras agreed, writing that the new claims “allege the same operative facts with the same injury under the same section of BIPA.” If the plaintiffs ultimately succeed on those new claims, they would succeed on the existing BIPA claim, making dismissal of those new claims appropriate, Kocoras added.

Vance and Janecyk realleged a separate BIPA claim that Kocoras had tossed, but the judge declined to keep that claim.

“Plaintiffs concede they lack standing and note they realleged the claim to preserve their appellate rights, but nonetheless ask us not to dismiss the claim because it does not ‘prejudice or impact the parties in any way,’” Kocoras wrote. “While we agree there may not be any prejudice in keeping the claim, we also see no prejudice in dismissing it.”

Loevy & Loevy and Carlson Lynch LLP represent the plaintiffs and proposed class.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP represents IBM.

The case is Vance v. Int’l Bus. Machs. Corp., N.D. Ill., No. 1:20-cv-577, order 8/31/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jake Holland in Washington at jholland@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kibkabe Araya at karaya@bloombergindustry.com