Microsoft and Amazon could face class-action lawsuits over biometric data collection and storage

Amazon Microsoft Biometric
Amazon Prime and Microsoft for Uber accessed biometric info without user consent? Pic credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

After Amazon drew flak from some of its drivers, it seems Microsoft may have to prepare for a legal battle for allegedly collecting, storing, and processing biometric information. The company was handling the operation for Uber.

A driver is going after Microsoft for allegedly not securing informed consent before collecting, analyzing, and storing digital likenesses of drivers. The driver is relying on the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) to seek legal recourse.

Uber driver living in Illinois questions Microsoft about biometric data collection and processing practices:

An Uber driver living in Illinois named Mario Pena launched a BIPA-related suit, against Microsoft. The driver is also proposing a class-action lawsuit against the Windows 10 OS maker.

At the heart of the lawsuit is the claim that Microsoft never explicitly asked or received consent from Uber drivers. Incidentally, Microsoft has offered its facial recognition software to Uber.

Uber has a real-time identification application for its drivers. Simply put, the application asks drivers to upload images which it captures using a smartphone’s camera.

Microsoft’s facial recognition software embedded in Uber’s application analyses and verifies the driver’s identity. The lawsuit alleges Microsoft’s software does not seek consent from drivers when it is accepting or analyzing facial or biometric information.

The driver further claims the process risks his security owing to fraud and ID theft. The biometric information that Microsoft collects is stored online, which, the driver claims, is beyond his control and without his permission.

Amazon scans the facial geometry in all uploaded photos containing faces, claims a new lawsuit:

Illinois resident Angela Hogan and a minor identified as B.H. last week filed suit against Amazon. The lawsuit claims Amazon scans the facial geometry in all uploaded photos containing faces.

Reports indicate Amazon could be gaining valuable information from images. Moreover, the process is reportedly not just restricted to Prime members using exclusive storage services but also includes consumers who stored images on the non-exclusive Photo service.

It appears Amazon could be using the information to improve Rekognition a facial recognition service. Incidentally, Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) clearly prohibits companies from making a profit off biometric identifiers collected without consumer consent.

Quite recently, a few drivers that work with Amazon, had openly expressed their displeasure about biometric information collection practices. The company had apparently threatened drivers with the termination of services if they didn’t comply.

Reports had indicated delivery employees who operate the trucks Amazon uses for last-mile logistics, must sign a new contract. The newly drawn contract seemingly gives them an ultimatum: “Sign a ‘biometric consent’ form or lose your job.”

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