Snapchat to pay millions after settlement in Illinois biometric privacy case

At the heart of the issue is Snapchat’s photo filter feature, which scans facial features each time a user takes a selfie or uses a filter.

Updated: August 24, 2022 - 12:26am

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Another social media company has settled out of court after allegations it violated Illinois’ strict biometric laws.

The parent company that owns Snapchat agreed to pay $35 million but denied any wrongdoing.

At the heart of the issue is Snapchat’s photo filter feature. Each time a user takes a selfie or uses a filter, that person’s facial features are scanned.

Ed Yohnka, director of communications with the ACLU of Illinois, has previously said the state’s biometric laws are in place to protect Illinoisans privacy.

“It really does ensure that a private entity has our notice and consent before they begin to use this intimate, personal data,” Yohnka said.

Before the Snapchat case, the most recent company taken to task involved Google. The lawsuit, which is similar to the one settled with Facebook, claimed Google violated the state's biometric laws with the Google Photos app.

Facebook was sued over its facial tagging feature. The settlement included more than a million Facebook users in Illinois for whom the social network created and stored a face template. Payments of $397 started going out in May after two plaintiffs who objected to the awarding of $97.5 million in attorneys’ fees in the case dropped their appeal.

Although individual settlement amounts in the Snapchat case have not yet been determined, Illinoisans qualify if they used the features “Lenses” and “Filters” between Nov. 17, 2015 and the present.

Anyone who submits a valid claim form by Nov. 5 can receive settlement money after their form is approved by the Settlement Administrator.

A final hearing on the case is set for Nov. 17.

More information can be found at SnapIllinoisBIPAsettlement.com.