Snapchat is currently in a bit of hot water with the state of Illinois following a class-action lawsuit that alleges that the company violated the privacy rights of Illinois app users. While the suit is still ongoing, parent company Snap Inc. could owe residents up to $35 million. That number is subject to change as the lawsuit continues toward its final approval, which is scheduled for November, according to NBC Chicago.
Although it’s never a good thing when a tech company violates the rights of its userbase, the silver lining here is that Snapchat users could be getting a check in the mail as long as they fill out the required forms.
According to the lawsuit, Snapchat was illegally collecting users’ “biometric information” through its lenses and filters. Biometric information, in this case, refers to things such as facial features and other individual identifiers unique to each user. It’s not illegal for companies to collect such information, but in the case of Snap Inc., it’s alleged that it was being done without Snapchat users’ consent. The suit also claims that Snapchat was creating face scans of each user and storing the information.
These acts are in direct opposition to Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires all companies that collect biometric information to get expressed consent before storing data. Because Snapchat doesn’t mention it was collecting data to the user, the suit was filed.
Snap Inc. denies the collection of any biometric data. In a statement to NBC, a company spokesperson said that it “vehemently denies” that Snapchat’s Lenses violate any part of the Biometric Information Privacy Act. The spokesperson does, however, clarify that lenses use software that identifies facial features such as noses and eyes to overlay the images that are a core part of the feature, but that that information isn’t saved or sent to Snapchat servers.
The class-action lawsuit is ongoing, so it’s still to be seen if the social media company is at fault.
Although the suit is unresolved, you can still fill out a form to see if you’re eligible for compensation. Only current Illinois residents who used Snapchat filters and lenses between now and November 15, 2015, are able to receive compensation. Former Illinois residents are also eligible if they lived within the state and met the usage requirements within the specified dates.
If you believe you are eligible, you can fill out the form online now. Illinois residents should have received a notice in the mail or via email with a notice ID and confirmation code you can enter on the website. If not, you can also download a claim form and submit it that way. If the lawsuit goes through and Snapchat needs to pay up, this will ensure you get your payment as quickly as possible.
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