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Illinois Google users to receive about $95 as part of privacy lawsuit settlement

Landscape photo of the outside of the Googleplex, Google headquarters in Mountainview, California. Google agreed to pay $100 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that alleged it violated Illinois’ biometric data laws.
Adobe Stock Photo
Google agreed to pay $100 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that alleged it violated Illinois’ biometric data laws.

Illinois residents who filed a claim to receive a portion of a $100 million settlement that Google agreed to last year in a biometric data privacy class-action lawsuit will get around $95 each.

Anyone who appeared in a photograph on Google Photos between May 1, 2015, and April 25, 2022, while they were an Illinois resident was invited to fill out a claim form. The deadline to submit a claim was Sept. 4, 2022.

More than 687,000 people filed valid claims, according to Cook County court documents, resulting in payouts of between $95 and $96.

The class-action suit stemmed from the company’s use of proprietary facial recognition technology in Google Photos, which analyzes photographs and creates and stores templates of a user’s face “all without ever informing anyone of this practice,” according to the complaint, which was filed in 2016.

The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act — enacted in 2008 — makes it unlawful for a company to collect a customer’s biometric identifiers without first informing the subject, the complaint states.

A judge ordered final approval of the settlement on Sept. 28, 2022, according to court documents. Google did not admit any wrongdoing in agreeing to settle the case.

Attorneys originally estimated payouts would be between $200 and $400 after the first round of verification found a total of about 420,000 valid claims, according to court documents. But the average payout was reduced after a second round of verification this year increased the number of claimants by 159,085.

In 2020, more than 1.4 million Illinois Facebook users filed valid claims in another class-action lawsuit, which said the company violated Illinois privacy law with a feature that suggested users tag people in their posted photos.

Each claimant received about $400 in that case.