Snapchat has settled for $35 million in an Illinois biometric privacy lawsuit after being accused of collecting biometric data from unsuspecting citizens in violation of Illinois state law.
The social media platform is accused of violating Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) by illegally collecting users’ biometric information through the use of “lenses” and “filters” without their consent. Every time a Snapchat user takes a photo of themself or uses one of the filters, their facial features are scanned by the app, which the lawsuit claims is “creating, obtaining and storing” a user’s unique biometric data.
Illinois’ BIPA states that “no private entity may collect, capture… or otherwise obtain a person’s or a customer’s biometric identifier or biometric information” without first receiving proper consent in accordance with the state laws.
While Snapchat’s parent company has agreed to a $35 million settlement, they have denied violating BIPA.
Snapchat spokesperson Pete Boogaard said that Snapchat lenses “do not collect biometric data that can be used to identify a specific person, or engage in facial identification.” He also said that the data used by the platform does not leave the user’s personal device.
“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,” Boogaard said.
Snapchat isn’t the only social media platform that’s faced a lawsuit in Illinois. TikTok recently settled for $92 million after being accused of breaking Illinois law, and, in June, Google agreed to pay $100 million after allegedly violating BIPA with a face grouping feature in Google Photos.
In 2021, Facebook was involved in a similar BIPA class action lawsuit in which it agreed to pay $650 million.
Illinoisians qualify for settlement money if they used the Snapchat “lenses” and “filters” between Nov. 17, 2015, and the present. Claims must be submitted by Nov. 5. However, individual settlement amounts have not been determined.
The final court hearing on the Snapchat settlement is scheduled for Nov. 17.