OPERATIONS

Teen sues Apple for $1 billion over store theft accusations

BY Dan Berthiaume

Apple faces a hefty lawsuit stemming from its facial recognition software identifying a suspected Apple Store shoplifter.

In the suit filed in federal court in Manhattan, 18-year-old New York resident Ousmane Bah says he was falsely accused of thefts from Apple Store locations in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Initially, Bah was accused of stealing $1,200 worth of Apple pencils from an Apple Store in Boston in May 2018. According to Bah, he had never been to Boston before appearing at a June 2018 arraignment hearing and was attending his senior prom in New York at the time of the theft. Bah was released on personal recognizance. Upon returning home, he received paperwork informing him of allegations of larceny from Apple stores in New York, New Jersey, and Delaware.

In November 2018, Bah was arrested by New York City police for another Apple Store theft in Manhattan. Police determined Bah did not resemble the suspect in the store surveillance video and dropped the charges.

The suit claims the actual thief had likely stolen Bah’s learner’s permit, which had his personal information but no photo, and presented it as identification to Apple store security during one of the thefts. According to the suit, Apple then used FaceID technology to inaccurately identify the thief as Bah on surveillance video of other felony shoplifting crimes. Bah says he had lost his permit but never reported it missing.

The suit states Bah is seeking $1 billion in damages because “(H)e was forced to respond to multiple false allegations which led to severe stress and hardship in his life, and also significant damage to his positive reputation that he had put so much effort into upholding.”

Apple has not yet publicly responded to the suit or allegations of falsely identifying Bah with FaceID.

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