TikTok has become the latest major consumer-facing tech company to face a lawsuit under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
The maker of an eponymous and highly popular video sharing app, and its China-based parent company ByteDance, are now facing a proposed class action suit in a California court. As Reuters reports, the complaint was filed by the guardians of two Illinois children who uploaded photos to the app and used facial filters in TikTok videos.
In mapping digital images onto live videos, facial filter technology necessarily entails the biometric scanning of a user’s face, whose digital map provides the frame upon which the digital images are overlaid. According to the BIPA complaint, TikTok collected biometric information from users without telling them it was doing so, nor did it explain why it did so; these are violations of BIPA regulations, which revolve around the use of informed consent in biometric data collection.
At this point, numerous companies have allegedly run afoul of BIPA, including Google, which faced a class-action lawsuit in February over its use of biometric face scanning on images uploaded to its Google Photos platform. That complaint came shortly after Facebook settled a class action BIPA suit of its own, to the tune of $550 million.
More recently, Clearview AI, which has notoriously collected images from across the internet and social media apps for a facial recognition system market at police agencies (among many other organizations), faced a preliminary injunction in its own BIPA lawsuit asking that the company be forced to delete the biometric data it has collected.
The numerous cases, together with the latest complaint against TikTok, illustrate the escalating tension between the tech world’s routine collection of biometric data and a growing movement demanding greater privacy protections for consumers and citizens.
May 4, 2020 – by Alex Perala