Snap agrees to $35 million settlement in Illinois privacy lawsuit

Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, has reached a $35 million settlement in a class action lawsuit in Illinois. The suit alleges that Snapchat’s filters and lenses violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which is a powerful state measure that has tripped up tech companies in recent years. The news was first reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Snapchat users in Illinois who used the app’s lenses and filters between November 17, 2015 and the present may be eligible to receive a cut of the settlement. TheChicago Tribune reports individual payouts are estimated to be between $58 and $117. Although the settlement amount still needs to go through a final approval hearing in November, users who think they may be eligible can submit a claim online.

A spokesperson for Snap told TechCrunch in an email that the social media company denies that Lenses violate BIPA, noting that Lenses don’t collect biometric data that can be used to identify a specific person.

The spokesperson offered TechCrunch the following statement:

Snap continues to vehemently deny that Lenses violate BIPA, which was designed to require notice and consent before collecting biometric information used to identify people. We deeply value the privacy of our community, and Snapchat Lenses do not collect biometric data that can be used to identify a specific person, or engage in facial identification. For example, Lenses can be used to identify an eye or a nose as being part of a face, but cannot identify an eye or a nose as belonging to any specific person. Moreover, even the limited data that is used to power Lenses is never sent to Snap’s servers – the data never leaves the user’s mobile device. And while we are confident that Lenses do not violate BIPA, out of an abundance of caution and as a testament to our commitment to user privacy, earlier this year we rolled out an in-app consent notice for Snapchatters in Illinois.

The Illinois privacy law has tangled up other tech giants as well, including Facebook, TikTok and Google. Most recently, a federal judge in Illinois granted final approval for a $92 million class action lawsuit settlement with TikTok. The lawsuit alleged that TikTok violated both federal law and Illinois’ BIPA by unlawfully collecting users’ biometric data and sharing it with third parties.

Earlier this year, Google agreed to pay $100 million to settle a class action lawsuit in Illinois over a facial recognition feature in Google Photos. The lawsuit alleged that the company violated BIPA through Google Photos’ “Face Grouping” feature. Last year, Facebook was ordered to pay $650 million for violating BIPA. The lawsuit alleged that Facebook’s practice of tagging people in photos using facial recognition without their consent violated the state law.

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