Google to pay millions to Illinois residents as part of settlement

Residents can claim a $400 check — part of a broader $100 million settlement pool — by filing a claim before Saturday.
Google employees.
Google employees. (Photo courtesy Google Press, Graphic by The Desk)

Illinois residents who used a certain Google product could be entitled to a $400 check as part of a settlement reached in a class action lawsuit.

The lawsuit was brought by plaintiffs in that state who alleged Google’s use of facial-recognition technology within the Google Photos app violated the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act, a 2008 law that restricted companies from using certain biometric data without full consent and disclosure.

The Google Photos app contains a feature called Face Grouping that organizes photos based on the people who appear in them. The app uses facial-recognition technology — which Google calls “pattern recognition” — to identify the people who appear in each photo, then groups photos together based on individual people.

Google affirms the Face Grouping feature did not violate Illinois law because the company warns users about the feature and gets their consent. Plaintiffs disagree, saying Google needed their explicit — not implied — consent in writing before they activated Face Grouping on their accounts.

Both parties have settled the lawsuit in a way that will see Google issue a $400 check to any Illinois resident who used Google Photos between May 1, 2015 and April 24, 2022. Illinois residents are also eligible if they appeared in a photo that was uploaded by another person to Google Photos, even if that particular resident never used the service.

Residents of other states are eligible to file a claim if they previously lived in Illinois between May 1, 2015 and April 24, 2022 and appeared in at least one photo uploaded to Google Photos during that same time period.

The $400 check will come from a pool of around $100 million that Google has agreed to pay as part of the settlement. The tech company has not admitted any wrongdoing and still maintains that it did not violate the law.

In order to receive the check, Illinois residents must file a claim by clicking or tapping here before September 24, 2022. Residents who do nothing will not be eligible to receive a check.

A federal judge is expected to approve the settlement at a court hearing on September 28.

The case is Lindabeth Rivera v. Google Inc., (16-cv-02714), filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

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