Photo-sharing service Shutterfly is facing a lawsuit over privacy law violations. The lawsuit stems from the company’s use of facial recognition technology.
Brian Norberg is seeking $5 million in damages on behalf of himself and any others whose facial biometric data has been captured and used by Shutterfly. His lawsuit emerged from an incident in which a friend uploaded a photo to the service and tagged him in it; Shutterfly then scanned his face and created a profile for him in its database, and later used the biometric data to identify him in additional uploaded images. Upset that his data was being collected even though he wasn’t even using the service, Norberg filed the lawsuit with respect to Illinois’ privacy laws, which require companies to notify individuals of when their biometric data is being collected and how it’s going to be used.
It’s one of only two states in the US that currently have such privacy laws (the other being Texas), and it’s the same state in which a similar lawsuit was recently filed against Facebook. Concerns about just these kinds of legal liabilities have compelled that company to keep its new Moments app out of Europe, where privacy laws tend to be more strict. And depending on how these recent cases against Facebook and Shutterfly in the US turn out, there could soon be a chilling effect on such data collection practices in America too.