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Google Facial Recognition Lawsuit Thrown Out

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A lawsuit against Google was dismissed over the weekend after a U.S. judge said there was a lack of “concrete injuries” suffered by the plaintiffs.

According to Reuters, the suit, filed in March 2016, accused Google of breaking Illinois state law by collecting and storing biometric data from photographs via facial recognition software through its Google Photos service.

Plaintiffs were seeking more than $5 million for the “hundreds of thousands” of Illinois residents affected, including $5,000 for each intentional violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, or $1,000 for every negligent violation.

Google had argued that the plaintiffs should not receive any money or injunctive relief because they had suffered no harm, and on Saturday (December 29) U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang granted the company a motion for summary judgment, saying there was a lack of “subject matter jurisdiction because plaintiffs have not suffered concrete injuries.”

Last month, Google announced that it had decided not sell its facial recognition products until it can make sure the technology will not be abused.

“Like many technologies with multiple uses, facial recognition merits careful consideration to ensure its use is aligned with our principles and values, and avoids abuse and harmful outcomes,” Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs, wrote in a blog post.

Earlier this year, Google was hit with a slew of resignations over its contract with the Pentagon for Maven, which uses AI for drone footage analysis. Google eventually decided not to renew the contract. And earlier this month, a research group affiliated with both Google and Microsoft called for more regulation of facial recognition and other artificial intelligence (AI) products.

“These tools are very suspect and based on faulty science,” said Kate Crawford, a co-founder of the group who works for Microsoft Research. “You cannot have black box systems in core social services.”

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