A New York teenager filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Apple claiming the company’s facial-recognition software wrongly blamed him for a series of Apple Store thefts in Boston, New Jersey, Delaware and Manhattan.
NYPD officers arrested 18-year-old Ousmane Bah on November 29th for the thefts, but they reportedly got the wrong guy. The real perpetrator used a stolen ID that had his name, address and other personal information. The lawsuit claims that since the ID didn’t have a photo, Apple programmed its stores’ face recognition system to link real thief’s face with Bah’s information, leading to the arrest.
A detective that eventually examined Apple’s surveillance footage after the arrest determined that the real Bah didn’t look anything like the thief. Further, Bah was attending his senior prom in Manhattan when the Boston theft, where $1,200 worth of goods were stolen, took place.
Bah only learned he had been dragged into a criminal investigation after receiving a Boston municipal court summons in the mail in June.
Apple’s “use of facial recognition software in its stores to track individuals suspected of theft is the type of Orwellian surveillance that consumers fear, particularly as it can be assumed that the majority of consumers are not aware that their faces are secretly being analyzed,” the lawsuit states. [h/t NY Post]
Charges against Bah have been dropped in Boston, Delaware, Manhattan, but the case is still pending in New Jersey.