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Tesla Hit With Biometric Privacy Suit Over Alleged Face Scans

March 14, 2022, 3:02 PM

Tesla Inc. disregards drivers’ biometric privacy rights by scanning their faces while in its vehicles as part of its autopilot and full self-driving systems, according to a proposed class action filed in Illinois state court.

The Austin, Tex.-based electric vehicle manufacturer scans drivers’ faces with an in-cabin camera, but the company does so without obtaining informed consent from Illinois drivers in violation of the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, plaintiff Peter Platt alleged in a complaint filed March 11 in the Illinois Circuit Court.

The autopilot system is included in all of Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y cars, and the full self-driving system is an add-on for paying subscribers, according to the complaint. The biometric-enabled camera uses facial and eye tracking to ensure drivers are monitoring the road when self-driving technology is in use, Platt alleged.

Tesla collected, stored, and analyzed Platt’s facial geometry in December 2021 when he was driving a Model 3 car in Illinois and had the autopilot feature engaged, according to the complaint.

“Defendant collected Plaintiff’s biometric data for data storage and redundancy purposes in order to help train its machine learning models because the vehicle Plaintiff was driving had its ‘data sharing’ feature enabled,” attorneys representing Platt wrote.

Tesla also failed to make public its data retention policy informing consumers of the whereabouts of facial biometric data collected by the company, Platt argued.

The proposed class is seeking statutory damages of $5,000 for each willful violation of BIPA.

Cause of Action: Violation of the Biometric Information Privacy Act.

Relief: Class certification, injunctive relief, statutory damages, attorneys’ fees.

Potential Class Size: Hundreds.

Response: Tesla representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys: McGuire Law P.C. represents Platt and the proposed class.

The case is Platt v. Tesla Inc., Ill. Cir. Ct., No. 2022LA236, complaint 3/11/22.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Renee Schoof at rschoof@bloombergindustry.com