Game Developer Prevails In Privacy Battle Over Faceprints

Siding with Take-Two Interactive Software, a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit accusing the company of violating an Illinois privacy law by collecting faceprints of video game players.

The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by siblings Vanessa and Ricardo Vigil, who challenged facial-scanning technology used in the game NBA 2K15. The Vigils alleged that game used their facial scans -- which were captured by the platform's camera -- in order to create avatars that resembled them.

The Vigils claimed in a class-action complaint that Take-Two violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act -- a 2008 law that requires companies to obtain written releases from people before collecting biometric data like “face geometry,” and obligates companies to notify people about biometric data collection and publish a schedule for destroying the information.

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Take-Two argued that the case should be dismissed on the grounds that the Vigils didn't suffer any concrete injury as a result of any alleged violations of the Illinois law.

U.S. District Court Judge John Koeltl in New York agreed with the company. "There is no allegation that Take-Two has disseminated or sold the plaintiffs’ biometric data to third parties, or that Take-Two has used the plaintiffs’ biometric information in any way not contemplated," Koeltl wrote in a ruling issued this week.

He added that the Vigils agreed to the game's terms and conditions, and that the game's scanning feature worked as intended.

The Vigils said they were at an "enhanced risk of harm" in the future because their faceprints were now in Take-Two's possession.

But Koeltl said that possibility was too "abstract and speculative" to warrant a lawsuit.

The Vigils have already filed an appeal of the decision.

Facebook and Google are facing separate lawsuits that also allege violations of the Illinois biometric privacy law.

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