Illinois Court Rejects Clearview’s Attempt to Halt Lawsuit Against Privacy-Destroying Surveillance

Affiliate: ACLU of Illinois
August 27, 2021 2:30 pm

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Illinois
Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

CHICAGO — A court in Illinois today denied Clearview AI’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) challenging the company’s capture of millions of Illinoisans’ unique identifying faceprints without their knowledge or consent. Today’s ruling, which allows the case to proceed, rejects Clearview’s argument that its privacy-destroying business is shielded from regulation by the First Amendment.

The case, ACLU v. Clearview AI, was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Illinois, and law firm Edelson PC on behalf of the ACLU, the ACLU of Illinois, the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, the Sex Workers Outreach Project, the Illinois State Public Interest Research Group, and Mujeres Latinas en Acción. According to the lawsuit, Clearview violated — and continues to violate — the privacy rights of Illinois residents under BIPA, which requires companies to get people’s consent before capturing their biometric identifiers, like faceprints.

“Without regulations like BIPA, companies like Clearview could end privacy as we know it,” said Vera Eidelman, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “Clearview tried to argue that it has a First Amendment right to capture our faceprints without our consent. It failed. This ruling protects our clients’ rights, and sends a strong message to lawmakers across the country that they can protect privacy without running afoul of the First Amendment.”

The face surveillance company has captured more than three billion faceprints from images available online, including those of Illinois residents — all without the knowledge or consent of those pictured. Clearview has offered access to this database to numerous private and governmental entities, enabling covert surveillance on a massive scale.

BIPA requires companies to give notice to and get consent from people before capturing their biometric identifiers, including faceprints. This is because the involuntary capture of biometric identifiers — which cannot be changed — poses greater risks to an individual’s security, privacy, and safety than the capture of other identifiers, such as names and addresses.

The groups are asking the court to order Clearview to delete faceprints gathered from Illinois residents without their consent and cease capturing new faceprints unless they comply with BIPA’s consent procedures.

Additional statements from parties involved in the lawsuit are below:

“Today’s decision shows that it is still possible for individuals to take control of their personal information from Big Tech, and legislation like BIPA is the key,” said Rebecca Glenberg, senior staff counsel with the ACLU of Illinois. “We must continue to fight for the right to protect our privacy through control of our personal information.”

“Much of Mujeres’s work centers on protecting privacy and ensuring the safety of the survivors, adults and children who seek our help, and today’s decision allows us to keep doing that work,” said Linda X. Tortolero, President and CEO of Mujeres Latinas en Acción.

More information about this case is here:

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.

Learn More About the Issues in This Press Release