Google settles Photos facial recognition lawsuit for $100 million

You can claim hundreds of dollars if you qualify.

Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook isn't the only one compensating Illinois residents over alleged privacy violations. The Verge notes Google has agreed to pay $100 million to settle a class action lawsuit accusing the company of violating Illinois' Biometric Information Protection Act (BIPA) through Photos' "Face Grouping" feature. The settlement will let you claim between $200 and $400 if you appeared in a picture on Photos between May 1st, 2015 and April 25th, 2022.

Google supposedly broke the law by collecting and analyzing faces without appropriate notice, asking for "informed" consent or sharing data retention policies with the public. Face Grouping is meant to help you find photos of given people by detecting faces and automatically organizing them into collections.

You have until September 24th to submit a claim, and can object to the settlement terms before August 10th. The final approval hearing is slated for September 28th.

We've asked Google for comment. In a statement to The Verge, the company defended Face Grouping by stressing that collections were only visible to you and can be disabled.

The settlement is relatively modest. In 2021, Facebook agreed to pay $650 million to settle a lawsuit over its defunct face-based Tag Suggestions feature. This might not be the last big payout in the near future, though. Snap is dealing with a class action suit over purportedly illegal collection of face and voice data for its augmented reality effects, and it might face a similar expense if the plaintiffs prevail.

Update 6/6 3:53PM ET: Google has provided its full statement to Engadget. You can read it below.

"We’re pleased to resolve this matter relating to specific laws in Illinois, and we remain committed to building easy-to-use controls for our users. Google Photos can group similar faces  to help you organize pictures of the same person so you can easily find old photos and memories. Of course, all this is only visible to you and you can easily turn off this functionality if you choose."