A teen is suing Apple for $1 billion and claims its facial recognition led to his false arrest

iphone x face id


Apple's iPhone facial recognition feature, Face ID, is mentioned during Bah's $1 billion suit.

  • A New York teenager is suing Apple for $1 billion, claiming the company's alleged use of facial recognition in its stores led to his wrongful arrest.
  • 18-year-old Ousmane Bah said he was arrested at his home in November and charged with stealing from an Apple Store in Boston.
  • Bah said he was attending his senior prom in Manhattan on the day of the alleged thefts, and that he was wrongly implicated in other Apple Store thefts.
  • Bah's suit says the teenager had lost a driver's permit with his photo, and this may have been connected to his misidentification.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

An 18-year-old is suing Apple for $1 billion following a "traumatic" wrongful arrest, which he claims was a result of misidentification by Apple's facial recognition software.

We first heard of the lawsuit via Bloomberg.Advertisement

Ousmane Bah, a college student from New York, filed the claim against Apple and security firm Security Industry Specialists Inc on Monday.

Bah was still a high school student when he received a summons from a court in Boston, claiming he'd stolen $1,200 worth of Apple products - in particular Apple Pencils - from the Apple Store in Boston.

According to the suit, Bah had never been to Boston and he was attending his senior prom in Manhattan on the day the theft took place.

Later Bah was accused of additional thefts from Apple Stores in New Jersey, Delaware, and New York City.

Bah was arrested in November 2018 at 4 a.m. in his home by the NYPD on suspicion of stealing from the Manhattan Apple Store. According to the filing, the police's warrant included a photo of a suspect who didn't resemble Bah, but they carried out the arrest anyway.Read more: Artificial intelligence experts from Facebook, Google, and Microsoft called on Amazon not to sell its facial recognition software to policeAdvertisement

An NYPD detective realised that Bah had been wrongfully arrested, viewing surveillance footage from the store and seeing that the suspect looked "nothing like" Bah. The detective then told Bah that the problem might be to do with Apple's facial recognition. He said that Apple's security technology, "identifies suspects of theft using facial recognition technology."

"This fact is concerning, particularly in light of the fact consumers are not generally aware of Defendant's [Apple's] use of facial recognition technology within its security system. Presumably, Defendant's [Apple's] security system scans consumers' faces to look for matches on a list of suspects," the suit notes.

The suit is not specific as to how Apple deploys its facial recognition for security, but makes frequent mention of its Face ID facial recognition feature, which is used in its more recent iPhone and iPad models.Advertisement

The detective also suspected that the real thief may have used Bah's interim driving licence, which he had lost, as ID during one of the offences, thereby linking Bah to the crimes in Apple's systems.

Apple and Security Industry Specialists Inc did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment. Both declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by Bloomberg.