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Illinois parents file biometric data complaint against portrait firm

The strict Illinois law that governs how biometric data is used has brought another class-action suit against a photography company. The class action suit - St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 23LA082 – alleges an online photo service utilizing a facial recognition search engine to find people in photographs invades user privacy in violation of Illinois law.

According to a report in the Madison Record, plaintiffs Spencer Mayhew and Ashley Reichert, on behalf of minors X.R. and H.R., filed a class action lawsuit in the St. Clair County Circuit Court against Candid Color Systems, Inc, TSS Photography, LLC and TSS Photography of Salem, citing negligence and carelessness in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

According to the lawsuit, the defendants provide an online platform to sell photos taken at school graduation ceremonies, youth sporting events, and other events. The complaint alleges the platform uses facial recognition technology that can identify facial images in a particular photograph and use that information to locate and match facial images from a gallery. Under the BIPA laws, companies must require, in writing, to provide information to visitors who biometric data will be collected and stored, as well as the purpose of the collection and how long it will stored.

According to the lawsuit, many of these galleries contain hundreds of images of Illinois citizens, including images of the plaintiffs who never consented to or even knew that their biometrics were being collected by the defendants.

The suit is like one filed against Shutterfly, where the company sued by plaintiffs Vernita Miracle-Pond and Samantha Paraf. The lawsuit accused Shutterfly of violating the BIPA by failing to secure permission of Illinois users when Shutterfly scanned the photos and created templates of the facial geometry of people depicted in the photos. The company then used that information to track and tag their photos across its platform.

Shutterfly settled the suit in 2022.

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