Google might owe you part of a $100 million settlement fund related to Google Photos

Google has assembled a pot worth $100 million which is actually a fund that has to be shared among those eligible to be part of a settlement involving the Google Photos platform. Of course, not everyone is entitled to a share of this money. You must have been a resident of Illinois between May 1, 2015, and April 25, 2022, and appeared in a Google Photos image during that time range.

Do you qualify for a slice of a $100 million settlement fund put together by Google?

If you qualify, you have until September 24th to visit www.googlebipasettlement.com (via PCMag) and filing a claim that could make you part of a class action suit against Google, eligible for a slice of that $100 million chocolate cake. The website notes that the name of the lawsuit is Rivera, et al v. Google. Members of the class are expected to be awarded a payment in the range of $200 to $400 each (more on this later).

The site states that “If at any time between May 1, 2015, and April 25, 2022, you appeared in a photograph in Google Photos while you were an Illinois resident, you may be entitled to get a payment from a class action settlement.” And there is a button to press that takes you to the sheet you need to fill out to file a claim. The lawsuit was filed back in 2016 (the wheels of justice travel s-l-o-w-l-y).

According to the lawsuit, Google Photos’ Face Grouping tool violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). How? By collecting and storing details about people’s faces without giving proper notice and asking for consent. Google never informed users how their personal data would be used which, in legal jargon, is a “Bozo no-no.” This past May, Google agreed to the $100 million settlement.
Here is where Google went wrong. The BIPA requires that companies collecting and storing biometric data from Illinois residents, including distinctive details about a person’s face, receive a written release from each subject. The subject must also be informed what the purpose of the data collection is, how long it will be stored, and when the data will be permanently destroyed.

Google’s defense is weak. It told CNET that Face Groupings, which allow images of the same person to be organized using facial recognition algorithms, “is only visible to you and you can easily turn off this functionality if you choose.” A final approval hearing is scheduled for September 28th with class members receiving their payments starting within 90 days after the court grants final approval and all appeals have been handled.

Sorry, a more precise payout date cannot be calculated. The website put up under the terms of the settlement to promote it says, “It is always uncertain whether and when appeals can be resolved, and resolving them can take time. No benefits will be provided until the Court has approved the settlement and any appeals have been resolved.”

There are 1.4 million Illinois residents entitled to file a claim

According to SEOHost.net, there are 1.4 million Illinois residents eligible to file a claim. The plaintiffs’ attorneys explain that eligible applicants will receive an equal portion of the $100 million settlement fund after the court awards legal fees and other expenses, which could be as much as 40% of the total. The actual cash amount will depend on the number of valid claims submitted.

But if your claim has been accepted making you a member of the class, there is some good news. You can choose to have your payment sent to you via Venmo, Zelle, Paypal, prepaid digital Mastercard, or physical check.

Google isn’t the only tech-related company forced to make huge payouts due to Illinois’ BIPA. Last year, TikTok paid out a $92 million settlement while Snapchat just this month agreed to a $35 million settlement over BIPA violations. Facebook reached a settlement agreeing that its photo tagging feature violates BIPA forcing it to make payouts totaling $650 million.

Do lawyers love Illinois? You bet your sweet BIPA.

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