Eligible Illinois residents can now file a claim in a class action settlement following a lawsuit brought against Google alleging privacy violations by the company under the law of the State.
The lawsuit, which mirrors the one recently settled with Facebook that resulted in scores of residents receiving checks last month, claimed the company violated Illinois’ biometric information privacy law by “collecting and storing biometric data of individuals who, while residing in Illinois, appeared in a photo in the photo sharing and storage service known as Google Photos, without proper notice or consent.
A settlement was reached in the matter earlier this year and now eligible residents can file their claims. Google did not immediately respond to NBC 5’s request for comment, but admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement agreement and denied all claims made in the lawsuit.
So who is eligible to file a claim and how can they do so?
According to the settlement’s website, residents qualify “if at any time between May 1, 2015 and April 25, 2022, you appeared in a photo in Google Photos while a resident of Illinois.”
Those looking to submit a complaint can do so using the form here.
Eligible residents can apply now through September 24. All claims must be submitted by this date to be eligible for payment.
For those who wish to object or opt out of the settlement, that deadline is August 10.
A final approval hearing is scheduled for September 28.
Those who qualify will receive a portion of the $100 million settlement fund, after deducting legal fees, costs and expenses. But how much each person will receive remains unclear.
“No one knows in advance how much each valid claim payment will cost until the deadline for submitting claims passes and the Court awards the award of fees and expenses and service payments,” indicates the settlement website. “Each class member who submits a valid claim will receive an equal proportionate share of the Net Settlement Fund. »
The attorneys in the case estimate, based on their experience and similar cases, that each claim could be worth between $200 and $400.
If final approval is granted and any potential appeal process is completed, eligible participants could receive their payments within 90 days. The final approval hearing is set for September 28 at 10:30 a.m.
Lawyers warn, however, that even if the court approves the settlement, there may still be appeals in the case.
“It is always uncertain if and when appeals can be resolved, and resolving them may take time,” the website states.
More recently, more than one million Facebook users in Illinois are beginning to receive checks following a $650 million settlement in a class action lawsuit alleging it violated residents’ rights by collecting and by storing digital scans of their faces without permission. Microsoft, Amazon and Google are among the companies that have also been accused of violations.
A class action lawsuit has also been filed against Snapchat’s parent company, accusing the social network of breaking the law.
Illinois’ Biometric Privacy Act prohibits private sector companies and institutions from collecting biometric data from unsuspecting citizens in the state or online, regardless of where the company is based. Data cannot be sold, transferred or traded. Unlike any other state, citizens can sue for alleged violations, which has sparked hundreds of David and Goliath legal battles against some of the world’s most powerful corporations.
If a company is found to have violated Illinois law, citizens can collect civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, compounded by the number of people affected and the days involved. No state regulatory agency is involved in law enforcement.
Since BIPA is an Illinois law, it only applies to residents of the state.