Snapchat Set to Pay Millions After Settling In Illinois Biometric Privacy Case

Social media company Snapchat will be paying millions after it settled out of court in a case involving biometric privacy and its photo filter feature.

Following allegations that Snapchat violated Illinois’ strict biometric laws, the parent company that owns the social media platform has agreed to pay $35 million — though the company denied any wrongdoing.

The lawsuit centered around Snapchat’s photo filter feature. Every time a user takes a selfie or uses a filter, their facial features are scanned.

Ed Yohnka, director of communications with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, has previously said the state’s biometric laws are designed to protect Illinois citizens’ privacy.

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

Prior to this Snapchat case, the most recent company taken to task involved Google. In the lawsuit, Google was accused of violating Illinois’ biometric laws via the Google Photos app.

The Google case was similar to a recent lawsuit settled with Facebook, in which the social media company was sued over its facial tagging feature. The settlement included over one million Illinois Facebook users for whom the social media platform had created and stored a face template.

Payments of $397 in the Facebook settlement began going out in May after two plaintiffs who had objected to the awarding of $97.5 million in attorneys’ fees in the lawsuit had dropped their appeal.

Individual payment amounts in the Snapchat settlement have not yet been determined, but Illinois residents are still able to submit a claim form as long as they qualify. Citizens of the state qualify for the settlement if they used the features “Lenses” and “Filters” between November 17, 2015 and present.

Any Illinois resident (or prior Illinois resident) who submits a valid claim form by November 5 is eligible to receive settlement money as long as their form is approved by the Settlement Administrator.

“If you are or were an Illinois resident who used Lenses or Filters offered by Snap between November 17, 2015 and the present, You May Be Entitled to a Payment from a Class Action Settlement,” the settlement website states.

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

More information regarding the case and settlement can be found at SnapIllinoisBIPAsettlement.com.