An 18-year-old is suing Apple Inc. for $1 billion over a false arrest that he claims resulted from the company’s faulty facial-recognition software.
According to papers filed in Manhattan federal court, Ousmane Bah says he was arrested at his home in New York last November and charged with stealing $1,200 worth of merchandise from an Apple store in Boston on May 31, 2018. This was followed by thefts at Apple stores in New Jersey, Delaware and Manhattan, which were also attributed to Bah.
The ID reportedly listed Bah’s name, address and other identifying information, but it did not include his photo. Bah claims to have lost his learner’s permit — which doesn’t have a photo, and which the thief may have used as identification at the various Apple stores.
Bah was a high school student at the time, and during the Boston robbery, Bah was attending his senior prom in Manhattan. Likewise, after a New York City detective examined Apple’s surveillance footage, it was determined that the thief didn’t look anything like Bah. The lawsuit claims that the facial-recognition software used in Apple stores falsely identified the young man.
“This fact is concerning, particularly in light of the fact consumers are not generally aware of Defendant’s use of facial recognition technology within its security system,” the lawsuit says. “Presumably, Defendant’s security system scans consumers’ faces to look for matches on a list of suspects.”
The lawsuit also states that 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.”
An Apple spokesperson told the website Engadet that the company does not use facial recognition in its stores. However, the company has not responded as to how they connected the fake ID with the real Bah.
Regardless, Bah is now suing Apple for $1 billion, claiming, “He was forced to respond to multiple false allegations which led to severe stress and hardship.”