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Illustration by Security Management

Video App Sued Over BIPA Violation in Illinois

The video platform Vimeo is facing a lawsuit for collecting and storing faceprints of people without securing individuals’ permission.

Bradley Acaley, the plaintiff listed in the complaint, also represents others in a class action suit for violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). According to the lawsuit, Vimeo allegedly obtained, kept, and used users “biometric identifiers and biometric information … without informed written consent.”

According to the state’s legislature, biometrics “are unlike other unique identifiers that are used to access finances or other sensitive information.” If a person’s biometric data is compromised, he or she is at a higher risk for identity theft and will probably opt out of biometric safeguards.

Under BIPA, companies and private entities can only collect a person’s biometrics if it informs a person in writing that such information will be collected or stores; informs in writing about the purpose for getting and saving that data, as well as for how long the biometrics will be kept and used for; the person agrees to have their information collected; and if the company makes written retention schedules and guidelines on the permanent destruction of the data publicly available.

The lawsuit alleges that Vimeo violated all four provisions under BIPA when persons used its acquired video editor application, Magisto, regardless of whether the person was a current user, former user, or someone who had never used the application. “Vimeo has created, collected, and stored, in conjunction with its cloud-based Magisto service, thousands of ‘face templates’ (or ‘face prints’)—highly detailed geometric maps of the face—from thousands of Magisto users,” the file said.

“These unique face templates are not only collected and used by Magisto to identify individuals, but also to recognize their gender, age, and location. Accordingly, Vimeo also collects ‘biometric information’ from non-users,” the suit alleged.

Face mapping is similarly used by Google Photos and Apple’s photo application to automatically create albums that group similar people together without a user individually labelling every picture.