An 18-year-old New Yorker is suing Apple for $1 billion, claiming he was falsely arrested and charged for a series of thefts that he did not commit due to facial recognition software that Apple allegedly uses to track theft. Ousmane Bah was arrested at his home in New York in November and was charged with stealing from Apple stores in Manhattan, Boston, Delaware and New Jersey. However, the photo that accompanied the arrest warrant showed somebody that “looked nothing like” the student, according to the Daily Mail.
Not only that, one of the thefts had occurred on the same day that Bah was attending his senior prom. He was in Manhattan for the event while one of the thefts occurred in Boston. So now, he is suing Apple for the hassle he has suffered as a result… which in his opinion is worth a solid one billion dollars.
Bah believes that a learners permit that he lost, containing his name, address and other personal information, was used for identification at Apple stores during the thefts. The thief was caught stealing $1200 worth of products from Apple in Boston on May 31, 2018. The same thief then stole from Apple stores in Manhattan, New Jersey and Delaware, while at the same time allegedly being tracked by Apple software.
Bah said he learned about the thefts the hard way: when a Boston municipal court summons arrived at his door in June. He was then arrested by the New York Police Department on November 29.
When the New York Police Department Detective who was assigned to the case examined surveillance footage from the Manhattan Apple Store, they found that the suspect “looked nothing like” Bah. Instead, the detective found that Apple’s (highly flawed) security technology had been using facial recognition to try and identify suspected thieves.
The investigator suspected that the thief had presented Bah’s learners permit during one of the multiple thefts. Bah then was forced to respond to all of the false allegations which led to ‘severe stress and hardship’ and left him ‘feeling humiliated, afraid, and deeply concerned’. In his lawsuit, he claims:
‘[Apple’s] use of facial recognition software in its stores to track individuals suspected of theft is the type of Orwellian surveillance that consumes fear, particularly as it can be assumed that the majority of consumers are not aware that their faces are secretly being analyzed.’
While the charges in most states have been dropped against him, the ones in New Jersey are still pending. Apple has claimed it “does not use facial recognition technology in its stores.”