LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) – The popular social media platform Snapchat faces allegations by two Illinois users that it stores information that makes them susceptible to identity theft.

The class action complaint filed May 23 by Jose Luis Martinez and Malcolm Neal in the Superior Court of California against Snapchat Inc. alleges that the multimedia service provider violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). On July 14, the defendant moved the case to U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

The plaintiffs allege in the complaint that their biometrics were comprised, which caused them to be at a greater risk for identity theft due to Snapchat’s lenses feature that adds special effects and stores users’ face templates. Martinez and Neal claim that Snapchat collected, stored and used their biometric identifiers and biometric information without providing notice or obtaining informed written consent, and failed to provide a publicly available written policy.

A spokesperson with Snapchat defended its processes and procedures, denying any wrongdoing.

"Contrary to the claims of this frivolous lawsuit, we are very careful not to collect, store or obtain any biometric information or identifiers about our community,” Noah Edwardsen told Legal Newsline.


Edwardsen referenced Snapchat’s privacy center, accessible by the general public.


“This details our privacy practices, including lenses,” he said.


Snapchat claims to treat users’ information differently than other technology companies. Lenses relies on object recognition, which uses an algorithm designed to “understand the general nature of things that appear in an image."


“It lets us know that a nose is a nose or an eye is an eye. But object recognition isn’t the same as facial recognition. While lenses can recognize faces in general, they can't recognize a specific face,” the privacy policy explains.


Phone calls made to the plaintiffs’ attorneys at Lite DePalma Greenberg LLC were not returned.


The plaintiffs request a trial by jury and seek declaration that defendant's actions violated the BIPA, compensation for statutory damages, litigation expenses and attorneys' fees, pre- and post-judgment interest and such other and further relief as equity and justice may require. They are represented by Tina Wolfson of Ahdoot & Wolfson PC in West Hollywood, California; Katrina Carroll and Kyle A. Shamberg of Lite DePalma Greenberg LLC in Chicago; and Jorge Gamboa of Stephan Zouras LLP in Chicago.

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