Earlier this year, the state of Illinois filed a class action lawsuit against Google over Google Photos’ privacy concerns. The company settled, and it was to pay a total of $100 million to anyone who used the app. And if you lived in Illinois between 2015 and 2022, hurry up: you only have a few days left to apply for your cut of the payout.
Let’s start with a short recap. The lawsuit claims that Google broke Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) because Google Photos uses facial recognition. The main problem, according to the plaintiffs, is the non-transparent handling of the collected sensitive data.
“Google is actively collecting, storing, and using — without providing notice, obtaining informed written consent or publishing data retention policies — the biometrics of millions of unwitting individuals whose faces appear in photographs uploaded to Google Photos in Illinois.
Specifically, Google has created, collected, and stored, in conjunction with its cloud-based “Google Photos” service, millions of “face templates” (or “face models”) — highly detailed geometric maps of the face — from millions of Google Photos users. Google creates these templates using sophisticated facial recognition technology that extracts and analyzes data from the points and contours of faces that appear in photos taken on Google “Droid” devices and uploaded to the cloud-based Google Photos service. Each face template that Google extracts is unique to a particular individual, in the same way that a fingerprint or voiceprint is unique to one and only one person.”
A Google spokesperson justified its use of facial recognition in a conversation with CNET. They said that it was “only visible to you and you can easily turn off this functionality if you choose.” But still, the damage is done and now damages are to be paid out.
You are eligible to file for your share if you were in Illinois between 1 May 1 2015 and 25 April 2022. According to PCMagazine, you could get up to $400, but it varies greatly. The amount of money an individual will receive depends on the number of valid claims, but also deductions for any fees and expenses. You have time to apply until Saturday, 24 September, so check out more details here and hurry up.