Lawsuit Alleges Lensa.ai App Illegally Took Users’ Biometric Data
A group in Illinois has filed a class action lawsuit against California-based Prisma Labs, the company behind the artificial intelligence-powered photo editing app, Lensa.ai.
As reported by Artnet, Chicago-based law firm Loevy & Loevy has filed a class action lawsuit against Prisma Labs, alleging that the company “unlawfully” collected Illinois residents’ biometric data using Lensa’s “Magic Avatars” feature.
The suit alleges that Prisma “violated the Illinois Biometric Information and Privacy Act (BIPA) by collecting users’ facial geometry without their permission, using it to train/develop Prisma’s artificial intelligence (AI) neural networks, and illegally storing the data.”
When using Lensa’s Magic Avatars feature, users must provide the app access to “every photo on their device” and upload at least ten selfies. Loevy & Loevy alleges that Prisma extracts facial biometrics from each uploaded selfie to train its neural networks and “make more profitable AI.”
The class action lawsuit doesn’t stop there. It also alleges that the open-source AI model, Stable Diffusion, is trained on 2.3 billion captioned images extracted from the internet, some of which are copyrighted works of art.
When Lensa was its peak popularity last December, PetaPixel reported that users were complaining about Lensa’s AI selfie generator sexualizing their photos. Many users also condemned the app for anglicizing people and making people appear slimmer. Some users have noted that men don’t appear subject to the same level of sexualization when using Lensa.
While apps like Lensa have dramatically dipped in popularity so far this year, users have already spent millions of dollars on in-app purchases.
🚨WE HAVE TO READ TERMS AND CONDITIONS! This is what Lensa can and will do with your photos and videos you’ve sent them. Y’all basically paid them to have the right to use your likeness for whatever they want because of vanity. Lensa won’t be the only Ai company that will do this pic.twitter.com/cmFqwETrcO
— ✨Repent.Sigh.Cry🙇🏾♀️ (@yaladyah) December 5, 2022
Users can email Lensa to have their personal data deleted. However, it’s clear that some users don’t fully understand how their data is used and what they agree to when they begin using an app. When an app like Lensa goes viral, users can be in such an excited rush to participate in a trend that they don’t fully appreciate the risks involved.
Ok I’ve been seeing people posting about the privacy issues with Lensa AI, and I thought I’d share some helpful tidbits from the TOS and privacy notice:
1. You’re helping them train their AI
2. They convert your photos to face data, which they claim to not retain BUT if you worry
— Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (@IBJIYONGI) December 4, 2022
“Lensa continues to be one of the most downloaded apps in the country, which is why this lawsuit—and Prisma Labs’ compliance with BIPA—is so urgently needed,” says Mike Kanovitz, a partner at the civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law. “Prisma Labs has been unlawfully collecting users’ biometric data without their consent. This is in violation of Illinois law, and deeply concerning for anyone who believes in data privacy.”
Saw a friend try the Lensa app, so I caved and tried the 50 avatar pack for fun (10 styles, 5 variations).
Some of the results are borderline racist cause it just served me random Asian girls that looked like the source material wasn’t adjust at all as if we all look the same 🤣 pic.twitter.com/BaQDbbHexu
— Xandra van Wijk (@xndra) November 26, 2022
Tom Hanson, another representing attorney at Loevy & Loevy, says “The plaintiffs in this lawsuit, and millions of others like them, unwittingly provided their facial biometrics to Prisma Labs when they downloaded the Lensa app. A person’s facial geometry is like their fingerprint: it is an immutable, unique identifier that deserves the highest degree of protection the law can afford.”
In addition to Kanovitz and Hanson, attorneys Jon Loevy and Jordan Poole are also part of the lawsuit. Loevy & Loevy won the first BIPA case to ever go to trial last October and were awarded a verdict of $228 million in the case of Richard Rogers, et al. v. BNSF Railway Compan (case #19 C 3083). The law firm’s new case, Jack Flora, Eric Matson, Nathan Stoner, Courtney Owens, and D.J., v. Prisma Labs, Inc., was filed in U.S. Federal Court, Northern District of California. The case number is 5:23-cv-00680. A .pdf of the entire lawsuit is available from Loevy & Loevy. The lawsuit complains for damages and relief and demands a jury trial.
Modern AI is pretty crazy these days. @PrismaAI took a swing on me and the results are crazy in my opinion. Very rich details and unique spin on looks. Going to have some fun with this. #ai #MachineLearning #gpt4 #tensor #gpt3 #PyTorch #cuda @nvidia pic.twitter.com/iVuA510YNQ
— Bitsbetrippin (@BitsBeTrippin) November 27, 2022
Regardless of what happens with the new lawsuit, people should always be careful what access they provide to the apps they use. Even if an app is popular and fun, it’s important to be aware of the risks that are assumed when uploading images, how those images might be used, and how much control over private data is retained.