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Court tosses lawsuit over Google Photos' facial recognition

The judge couldn't see evidence of harm.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
December 30, 2018
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Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google Photos users nervous about facial recognition on the service aren't going to be very happy. A Chicago judge has granted Google a motion dismissing a lawsuit accusing the company of violating Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act by gathering biometric data from photos without permission. The plaintiffs couldn't demonstrate that they'd suffered "concrete injuries" from the facial recognition system, according to the judge.

The suit had been filed in March 2016. The complainants wanted over $5 million for state residents, with $5,000 for each purposeful violation and $1,000 for each unintentional violation.

It's not certain the case would have succeeded had it moved forward. Google uses facial recognition in Photos to help you search for familiar people and pets, and it can only associate names with faces when you label them yourself. The Biometric Information Privacy Act requires consent for collecting personal identifiers, but it's not apparent that the information is truly identifying.

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