Teen hits Apple with $1B lawsuit over facial recognition arrest

Customers gather at an Apple store.

An 18-year-old New Yorker filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Apple on Monday, claiming its facial recognition software incorrectly linked him to thefts at several stores.

Ousmane Bah was arrested by NYPD officers on Nov. 29 after being blamed for thefts at Apple Stores in Boston, New Jersey, Delaware and Manhattan, according to his lawsuit.

The complaint says the actual thief was caught stealing $1,200 worth of merchandise (specifically Apple Pencils) from the Boston store last May. The person used a stolen ID that included his name, address and other personal details, but not his photo, it noted.

Bah’s first indication of this was a Boston municipal court summons, his suit says, but he hadn’t been to the city before and was apparently attending his senior prom in Manhattan on the day of the theft.

Apple allegedly programmed its stores’ facial recognition system to recognize the real thief’s face as Bah’s, so he got the blame for subsequent robberies. However, an NYPD detective who saw security footage from the Manhattan store realized the suspect “looked nothing like” Bah.

The use of facial recognition software in Apple stores “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 suit says.

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