Last Day to File a Claim for Google's $100 Million Privacy Settlement
It's your final chance to join the class action lawsuit against Google Photo.
Dan AveryFormer Writer
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Today is the final day to file a claim in a class action lawsuit file against Google. The search giant agreed to a $100 million settlement earlier this year, and Illinois residents whose likenesses appeared in a Google Photos album for the past seven years could be eligible for up to $400.
The plaintiffs in Rivera, et al. v. Google argue that Google Photos collects, stores and organizes pictures as part of its Face Grouping feature "without proper notice and consent," a violation of Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act. The 2008 state law requires companies that use facial recognition programs, fingerprint scans and other biometric tools on Illinois residents to get informed consent.
Eligible Illinois residents could get as much as $400, according to the plaintiffs' attorneys, but the last day to file a claim is Sept. 24. On Sept. 28, a final court hearing will determine whether the settlement and associated legal fees are "fair, reasonable, and adequate" before any payments are issued.
Here's what you need to know about the Google Photo biometric privacy case, including who's eligible for a payment, how much they could receive and when they might receive your money.
Google Photos' Face Grouping tool lets users organize images of the same person via facial recognition algorithms.
But the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA, requires companies that collect and store biometric data from Illinois residents, including distinctive details about a person's face, to receive a written release.
They must also inform users of the specific purpose the data will serve, how long it'll be stored and when it'll be permanently destroyed, among other stipulations.
According to the lawsuit, Google failed to fulfill any of the BIPA requirements when it stored biometric identifiers from the faces of people in pictures housed in Photos.
In a statement to CNET, Google spokesperson José Castañeda said the Face Grouping feature "is only visible to you and you can easily turn off this functionality if you choose."
Google, which has agreed to make changes to how it collects biometric data, is just the latest company to come up against the Illinois law. In 2021, TikTok settled a BIPA suit for $92 million, while Facebook is shelling out $650 million over allegations that its photo-tagging feature violated the statute.
You must include your name and current or previous Illinois address and you must confirm you appeared in a photo stored on Google Photo between May 1, 2015, and April 24, 2022.
When would I get my payment?
A final approval hearing for the settlement is scheduled for Sept. 28, 2022. Class members should receive their payments within 90 days of the final approval being granted and any appeals being addressed.
"It is always uncertain whether and when appeals can be resolved, and resolving them can take time," according to the settlement website. "No benefits will be provided until the Court has approved the settlement and any appeals have been resolved."
Class members have a choice of receiving their payment via Venmo, Zelle, Paypal, prepaid digital Mastercard or physical check.