Tech Giants Sued Over Photos in Facial Recognition Database

Microsoft, Amazon, and Google allegedly used pictures collected without consent to train their technologies.
Tech Giants Sued Over Photos in Facial Recognition Database

Several leading technology companies in the United States are facing lawsuits filed by two Illinois residents Tuesday on allegations of violating a state law governing biometric privacy.

Steven Vance and Tim Janecyk have alleged that Amazon, Alphabet’s subsidiary Google, and Microsoft used photos of individuals to train their facial recognition technologies without taking prior consent, as reported by CNET.

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The photos were included in IBM’s Diversity in Faces database, a collection of more than one million images designed to improve fairness and accuracy in facial recognition technology, according to the lawsuits.

Vance and Janecyk allege that their photos were included in the IBM database without permission even though they clearly identified themselves as Illinois residents, where collection, storage, and use of biometric information isn’t allowed without written consent under the Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2008.

The lawsuits, which seek class-action status, have been filed in California and Washington states and demand monetary damages and a restraint on the defendants’ use of the IBM database, CNET reported.

Facial recognition technology suffers from low accuracy rates in identifying women and minorities and has the potential to turn into an omnipresent form of surveillance.

IBM has already discontinued offering general-purpose facial recognition or analysis software citing inconsistency with its values.

Microsoft said last month that it would not offer facial recognition software to police departments. Amazon stopped selling such technology to police last year.

Amazon shares traded 0.3% higher at $3,093.60 in the pre-market session Wednesday. Microsoft shares were up nearly 0.5% at $209.38. Alphabet Class A shares traded slightly lower at $1,520.

This story originally appeared on Benzinga.

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