Lawsuit takes aim at Snapchat

The developers of a popular instant messaging application are accused in a lawsuit of breaking an Illinois privacy law.

A case in a California federal court says messaging app Snapchat violates Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act by saving the facial features of its users without notification. The suit alleges the information is saved in Snapchat’s Lenses program.

Lenses allows users to add real-time special effects to their videos. In its privacy policy, Snapchat states it uses object recognition in its Lenses program to recognize facial features, something the company said is different from facial recognition.

Chicago-based law firm Edelson PC has challenged Facebook on an alleged breach of the same law. Partner Christopher Dore said this information is the last thing you would want to end up in the wrong hands.

“You can have a new credit card sent to you in the mail, but you can’t change your biometric information,” he said.

Dore said the storage of this information makes this data subject to hackers and even the sale of the information to third parties.

While companies like Snapchat are using the information only on a consumer level, Dore said the use of biometric information could easily be expanded into discriminatory practices. For example, a brick-and-mortar store could read a person’s biometric facial data upon entering its store and treat the person in a specific manner based on his background; or even, Dore said, his race.

Representatives for Snapchat did not respond to a request for comment, but told the Chicago Tribune the charges were “frivolous.”

Texas also has a law against storing biometric information, but it’s only enforceable by the state’s attorney general.

–Illinois News Network

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