Proposed Amendment to Clearview AI Biometric Privacy Suit Names Additional Retail Defendants

Late last week the plaintiffs, a half-dozen Illinois residents as well as a Californian and a New Yorker, sought to file an amended complaint against Clearview AI Inc., its leaders, an affiliated company, and retailers who purportedly used its searchable biometric database. The 60-page proposed revised filing says that the facial recognition software company and its founders “developed their technology to invade the privacy of the American public for their own profit.”

The amended complaint would add AT&T, Kohl’s, Walmart, Best Buy, Albertson’s and The Home Depot as additional defendants in the ongoing litigation.

As previously reported, the plaintiffs argue that Clearview covertly scraped several billion facial images from the internet then used artificial intelligence algorithms to scan the facial geometry of depicted individuals in order to harvest their unique face print and corresponding biometric data. Armed with that information, Clearview allegedly created a searchable database its clients could use to identify unknown individuals simply by uploading a photograph. 

According to the plaintiffs, Clearview neither sought nor received consent for the collection and catalog of Americans’ biometric information in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act and other state constitutional, statutory, and common laws.

The amended pleading comes after several dismissal motions were filed by the Clearview defendants, which include its two founders and an attorney who advised an affiliated company also named as a defendant. Though Clearview sought review of the February decision, the court stood by its ruling, permitting eight claims to proceed.  

Similarly, Macy’s Inc. tried to exit the case, but was unsuccessful after the court confirmed that the plaintiffs had standing to bring some of their grievances. Further, Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman refused Macy’s request to certify questions for interlocutory appeal.

Last week’s proposed complaint, one of two filed in the sprawling multidistrict litigation, seeks relief, including damages on part of people whose biometrics were contained in the database. The filing sets forth a nationwide class and California, Illinois, New York, and Virginia subclasses. 

Further, it seeks relief from the “Clearview Client Class,” consisting of all non-governmental, private entities who purchased access to the biometric database and used it to run biometric searches at a time when the biometrics of one or more of the named plaintiffs had already been captured. The class includes the named retailers and all other similarly situated entities nationwide. 

The plaintiffs are represented by interim lead counsel Loevy & Loevy and other counsel Bursor & Fisher, P.A., Hedin Hall LLP, Neighborhood Legal LLC, Community Lawyers LLC, and Webster Book LLP.

Clearview is represented by Jenner & Block LLP and Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP.