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Snapchat's Unauthorized User Data Storage Issue

Simon Coulthard September 06, 2022

1-minute read

Snapchat agreed on August 8 to pay $35 million to users for storing facial data and other biometric information without permission. This relates to Snapchat Lenses which uses facial recognition technology without user consent - breaching Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

Last month, Snap, the parent company, agreed to solve the class-action lawsuit by paying $35 million. However, it still denies the allegations, stressing that this data is stored on the phones of users, and not in their central data bank. The company added that its Lenses feature is able to, “identify an eye or a nose as being part of a face, but cannot identify an eye or a nose as belonging to any specific person”.

Snapchat is not the only company that has found itself at the mercy of Illinois’ data privacy requirements, with three other well-known companies falling foul of enforcement measures:

  • Facebook was fined $550 million in 2020 for failing to meet BIPA requirements when collecting personal data through photo tagging 
  • Google was fined $100 million in June 2022 for collecting facial recognition data through its Photos app
  • Tiktok was fined $92 million in August 2022 for infringing BIPA privacy laws
  • T-Mobile was fined $350 million after user personal data was exposed in a 2021 hack
  • Capital One was fined $190 million after a personal data breach that affected over 100 million of their customers

What is BIPA?

Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) is a privacy law focused on protecting users' biometric data - facial scans, eyes, voice, fingerprints, or hands. 

This legislation doesn’t prohibit the use of biometric information but requires companies to ask users to sign an agreement that includes information about the reason for using such information, how much it will be stored, when it will be deleted, and so on. 

How Do You Know If You’re Eligible for a Snapchat Payment?

If you used a Snapchat lens or filter at any point from November 17, 2015 and lived in Illinois for at least six months during the class period, then you are eligible to make a claim online or by mail.

You’ll need to include the following information:

  • Your full legal name and Snapchat username
  • A legitimate Illinois address where you lived throughout the period in order to submit a claim
  • A personal statement in which you verify that you utilized Snapchat lenses or filters and lived in Illinois for at least six months throughout the class period.

Wondering how much money you can earn from a Snapchat violation? You’ll receive a proportion of the settlement fund. The Chicago Tribune estimates an amount of money between $58 and $117.

You can file a mail-in claim until November 5, 2022. But if you decide to reject the settlement and take independent legal action instead, the deadline is October 6.

Companies are more and more supervised when it comes to data privacy. The laws became very strict and entities began to be charged for violating various privacy laws.

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