Think Tank Seeks to File Amicus Brief in Support of Clearview AI Privacy Litigation Plaintiffs

On Thursday, the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law (the Center) asked the judge overseeing the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) class action to permit it to file an amicus brief. In its proposed brief, the Center offers the Northern District of Illinois court insights on the ways in which the BIPA protects against the harm facial recognition technology poses to Illinois residents’ rights to privacy and free expression.   

The filing explains that the Center is a “think tank which investigates ways in which modern surveillance technologies expand the government’s ability to monitor and track individuals.” The proposed brief says that the Center researches and reports on facial recognition technology, including how algorithmic partialities disproportionately affect people of color and how law enforcement’s misuse of the technology heightens the risk of false identification.

With regard to the instant litigation, the amicus argued that the BIPA is a constitutionally defensible law that aims to safeguard Illinois residents’ biometric privacy. The brief combats arguments made by the Clearview defendants that the law violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because it impermissibly regulates free speech.

To the contrary, the Center contends, the BIPA is both content neutral and “furthers Illinois ’s substantial interest in preventing the harms that may arise from Clearview AI ’s unlawful collection of residents’ biometric information and unconsented-to dissemination of that information to law enforcement agencies.”

Clearview AI’s technology, the Center contended, enables “unprecedented levels of police identification and surveillance,” through its data scraping and cataloguing. Police can access its database and submit images of unidentified suspects to find proposed possible matches in a database of more than three billion faceprints, the brief explains. In turn, the Center contends, law enforcement’s reliance on Clearview AI puts state residents at increased risk of misidentification and false arrest.

The Center is represented by the Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Chicago’s Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic.The motion and proposed brief come shortly after the plaintiffs filed their amended complaint. Earlier in June, the court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction after finding that they failed to demonstrate a likelihood of irreparable harm.