Plaintiffs Move for Preliminary Injunction in Clearview AI Biometrics Suit

On Friday, the plaintiffs in the consolidated class action against facial recognition company Clearview AI filed a motion for preliminary injunction and a memorandum in support of the motion related to allegations that the defendants surreptitiously scraped and obtained the plaintiffs’ and class’ photographs and harvested their biometrics to use in the company’s searchable facial recognition database; the plaintiffs asserted that the defendants violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act and have failed to sufficiently remedy their conduct on their own.

According to the motion, filed in the Northern District of Illinois, the plaintiffs seek to enjoin Clearview AI and the named defendants from “(c)ontinuing to possess, use and store the unlawfully collected biometric identifiers and biometric information (collectively, ‘Biometric Data’) of Illinois residents”; “(c)ollecting, capturing or obtaining Illinois residents’ Biometric Data without first providing the notice and obtaining the releases required by Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (‘BIPA’), 740 ILCS 14/1, et seq.”; “(s)elling, trading leasing or otherwise profiting from Illinois residents’ Biometric Data”; and “(d)istributing, redistributing or disseminating Illinois residents’ Biometric Data without obtaining the consent required by BIPA.”

Additionally, the plaintiffs are seeking an order for the defendants to “(s)tore, transmit and protect from disclosure all Biometric Data of Illinois residents: (i) using the reasonable standard of care within Defendant Clearview’s industry; and (ii) in a manner that is the same as or more protective than the manner in which the Clearview Defendants store, transmit and protect other confidential and sensitive information”; and “(d)evelop and publish on Defendant Clearview’s website a written policy, made available to the public, that establishes a retention schedule and guidelines for permanently destroying Illinois residents’ Biometric Data.”

In the memorandum, the plaintiffs proffered that while the defendants have attempted to claim they are “self-reformed,” they have “demonstrated that they cannot be trusted.” For example, the plaintiffs pointed to supposed contradictions: The defendants assert that they canceled all non-law enforcement customer accounts, “a recent application reveal(ing) Defendants’ commercial aspirations.” The plaintiffs added that Clearview AI claimed that Illinois residents can opt out of the Biometric Database; the plaintiffs contended that instead, the opt-out process “actually forces Illinois residents to consent to Defendants’ collection of their Biometric Data.” The plaintiffs averred that they should not be forced to consent to this conduct. As a result of Clearview AI’s conduct and the defendants’ alleged failure to provide adequate remedies, the plaintiffs argued that the preliminary injunction should be granted.

The plaintiffs ask the court to grant their requested injunctive relief, to appoint a special master to assist in the implementation of the injunction, and to verify the defendants’ compliance with the injunction.

The plaintiffs are represented by Loevy & Loevy; Bursor & Fisher P.A.; Hedin Hall LLP; Neighborhood Legal LLC; Community Lawyers LLC; and Webster Book LLP. Clearview AI and the defendants are represented by Jenner & Block LLP and Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP.