August 4, 2021

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McDonalds Faces Potential Class Action Lawsuit Over Automated Drive-Thru

McDonalds Faces Potential Class Action Lawsuit Over Automated Drive-Thru

McDonald’s equiped 10 of its restaurants in Chicago with automated speech-recognition for their drive-through windows. Now they’re facing a potential class-action lawsuit. Long-time Slashdot reader KindMind shares this report from the Register:
McDonald’s has been accused of illegally collecting and processing customers’ voice recordings without their consent in the U.S. state of Illinois… The state has some of the strictest data privacy laws; its Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) states: “No private entity may collect, capture, purchase, receive through trade, or otherwise obtain a person’s or a customer’s biometric identifier or biometric information.” unless it receives written consent.

Shannon Carpenter, a resident of Illinois, sued [PDF] McDonald’s in April on behalf of himself and all other affected state residents. He claimed the fast-chow biz has broken BIPA by not obtaining written consent from its customers to collect and process their voice data, nor has it explained in its privacy policy how or if the data is stored or deleted. His lawsuit also stated that McDonald’s has been experimenting with AI software taking orders at its drive thrus since last year.

“Plaintiff, like the other class members, to this day does not know the whereabouts of his voiceprint biometrics which defendant obtained,” Carpenter’s lawsuit stated. Under the BIPA, people can receive up to $5,000 in damages from private entities for each violation committed “intentionally or recklessly,” or $1,000 if each violation was from negligence instead.

The suit also claimed the machine-learning software built by McD Tech Labs doesn’t just transcribe speech into text, it processes audio samples to glean all sorts of personal information to predict a customer’s “age, gender, accent, nationality, and national origin.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.