Is Apple legally responsible for its technology leading to one New York man’s false arrest? A lawsuit for $1 billion says it is.
Ousmane Bah, 18, is suing the company claiming its facial-recognition software erroneously blamed him for stealing merchandise from Apple stores, according to the New York Post.
According to papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Bah alleges that after his ID was stolen last May, someone pretending to be him was caught stealing $1,200 worth of products from an Apple store in Boston.
The piece of identification the thief had on him during the arrest listed Bah’s name, address and other personal information, but did not include a photo. Bah says Apple was negligent for taking the actual perpetrator at his word and not verifying who the thief was with a proper photo I.D. As a result of this oversight, Apple then programmed all of its security systems to recognize the man’s face as Bah’s.
When the same thief later robbed Apple stores in New Jersey, Delaware and New York, Bah was then falsely blamed for all the crimes, the suit claims. He had no idea any of this was going on till he received a Boston municipal court summons in the mail in June.
On Nov. 29, after Bah was arrested by the NYPD, a detective working the case viewed surveillance footage from the Manhattan Apple store and quickly realized that the suspect in the case “looked nothing like” Bah, his lawsuit states.
Every state involved in the thief’s robbery spree has dropped charges against Bah except New Jersey, where the case is still pending.
Bah’s lawsuit slams Apple for causing him so much unnecessary legal trouble and claim’s the company’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.”
Apple says it does not use facial recognition software in its stores, according to Bloomberg News. Another defendant in the case, Security Industry Specialists Inc., did not comment on the case.