• What is the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act?
  • What is Snap accused of in the biometric privacy lawsuit?
  • Who is eligible for a payment in the Snapchat settlement?
  • How much can I get from the Snapchat settlement?
  • What’s the deadline to file a claim?

    If you used Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, has agreed to a $35 million settlement to resolve a class-action lawsuit claiming it stored users’ biometric data without permission. But the deadline to file a claim is right around the corner.

    The plaintiffs in the suit, filed on May 11, allege Snap didn’t ask for written consent before collecting and storing facial recognition data and other biometric information, as mandated by the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA. 

    Snapchat isn’t the first social media app to run afoul of the Illinois law. In 2020, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, agreed to a $550 million settlement after being sued for improperly collecting biometric data to tag photos. In June, Google agreed to pay $100 million to settle a similar suit.
    A federal judge provisionally accepted the Snapchat deal in August and final approval for the $35 million payout should follow a Nov. 17 hearing.

    Here’s what you need to know about the case, including what the law says, who’s eligible to file a claim, and when the deadline is.

    For more on class-action settlements, find out if you’re eligible for money from T-Mobile’s $350 million data-breach case or Smashburger’s $5 million false advertising settlement.

    What is the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act?

    Passed in 2008, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) is one of the country’s toughest privacy laws, requiring companies that collect biometric data — unique facial, voice and eye characteristics; fingerprint scans; heart rhythms — to take certain safeguards.

    According to the Snapchat complaint, BIPA “prohibits private entities from collecting, capturing, purchasing, receiving through trade, or otherwise obtaining a person’s biometric information” unless the user signs an informed consent release. 

    What is Snap accused of in the biometric privacy lawsuit?

    Plaintiffs in Boone, et al. v. Snap Inc. allege Snap collected and stored Illinois users’ biometric data but did not advise them about it, thereby violating BIPA.

    In a statement to CNET, a Snap spokesperson said the company denies the allegations, adding the “limited data” used by Snapchat Lenses stays on a user’s phone and is not stored in a central databank. In addition, “Snapchat Lenses do not collect biometric data that can be used to identify a specific person, or engage in facial identification.”

    Lenses — which can add bunny ears, mustaches and other augmented-reality traits — can “identify an eye or a nose as being part of a face, but cannot identify an eye or a nose as belonging to any specific person,” the representative said.

    Who is eligible for a payment in the Snapchat settlement?

    Anyone who lived in Illinois in the last five years and who used a Snapchat lens or filter at any time since Nov. 17, 2015, can submit a claim online or through the mail.

    To file a claim, you must provide your full legal name, Snapchat username and a valid Illinois address where you resided during the class period.

    In addition, you must submit a personal statement attesting you lived in Illinois for at least six months during the class period and used Snapchat lenses or filters during that time.

    How much can I get from the Snapchat settlement?

    According to the settlement website, class members who submit a valid and timely claim form can receive “a proportionate payment from the settlement fund” after attorneys’ fees, administration costs and other expenses are settled.

    The exact amount each class member will receive has not been determined, although The Chicago Tribune reports individual payouts will likely be between $58 and $117.