Estée Lauder is the latest company to get caught in the crosshairs of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The cosmetics giant is now staring down a class action lawsuit that raises concerns about the Virtual Try-On Tool on the company’s website.
In concept, the Virtual Try-On Tool is relatively straightforward. Online shoppers can upload a photo or start a video stream, and the tool will show them what they would look like after applying different Estée Lauder products. In that regard, the tool is comparable to the filters that are now popular on many social media platforms.
The problem, according to plaintiff Celia Castelaz, is that Estée Lauder is also collecting and storing all of the images and facial information that customers provide when using the tool. What’s more, it is failing to inform shoppers about that practice, which means that shoppers cannot give consent because they do not know that their biometric data is being stored and potentially used for other purposes.
That would constitute a violation of BIPA, which forces companies to obtain informed consent before using biometric data. The lawsuit alleges that Estée Lauder is collecting complete facial scans through the Virtual Try-On program.
Castelaz filed the lawsuit in New York’s Southern District federal court, even though the complaint centers around legislation in Illinois. The class would ultimately cover any Illinois residents whose biometric data was captured through the Virtual Try-On Tool in the past four years. Castelaz is seeking damages of up to $1,000 per BIPA violation, in addition to legal fees. She also wants the court to force Estée Lauder to destroy any biometric data collected through the Try-On feature.
Of course, Estée Lauder is far from the first company to stare down a BIPA complaint. Louis Vuitton has run into similar trouble with its own Try-On feature, while social media platforms like TikTok and Meta have paid millions to settle their own BIPA lawsuits, and Meta is still facing a separate action that centers around non-Facebook users whose images ended up on the site.
Source: Top Class Actions
June 3, 2022 – by Eric Weiss