Teen sues Apple for $1 billion, claims facial-recognition software falsely linked him to Apple Store thefts

“A New York student sued Apple Inc. for $1 billion, claiming the company’s facial-recognition software falsely linked him to a series of thefts from Apple stores,” Bob Van Voris reports for Bloomberg. “Ousmane Bah, 18, said he was arrested at his home in New York in November and charged with stealing from an Apple store. The arrest warrant included a photo that didn’t resemble Bah, he said in a lawsuit filed Monday.”

“Bah said he had previously lost a non-photo learner’s permit, which may have been found or stolen by the real thief and used as identification in Apple stores,” Van Voris reports. “As a result, Bah claimed, his name may have been mistakenly connected to the thief’s face in Apple’s facial-recognition system, which he said the company uses in its stores to track people suspected of theft.”

“Apple and Security Industry Specialists Inc., a security firm that’s also named as a defendant, declined to comment on the suit,” Van Voris reports.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: $1 billion? Did he hold his pinky to his lips when he asked for that?

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


    1. Since the lawsuit assumes something that isn’t true—that Apple is using face scanning on its customers, a plaintiff’s victory would be a major injustice. Sadly, the plaintiff is judgement-proof, but perhaps Apple can find a way to get the ambulance chasing lawyer to pay its legal costs and damages for defamation.

      1. It isn’t actionable defamation to file criminal charges against someone that you reasonably believe to be a criminal. It is undisputed that somebody using Ousmane Bah’s real, valid state-issued ID was identified committing multiple crimes in front of store security cameras. There is no allegation that Apple knew, or could reasonably have known, that the person using the ID (which did not have a picture) was not the real Ousmane Bah. They didn’t know what the real guy looked like until they saw the mugshot after he was arrested… because he had ignored a court summons and had therefore forced the issuance of a warrant.

        The defendant is only suing Apple because he cannot sue himself. The identity thief (if he can ever be identified) is the real villain here, but he certainly doesn’t have a billion dollars.

    2. Uh, Apple didn’t arrest this character. The police arrested him. They arrested him at his home based on some compelling evidence. . . Most likely surveillance videos, not a on a non-court-tested face recognition system of any kind.


  1. Did I get my facts wrong? Do you mean you can buy a sky scrapper or a search for a weapons of mass destruction for a billion? What a bargain.

    Or was it pointing out that a billion dollars is too low? Oh wait that’s an opinion, I can have one of those can’t I? Or maybe it’s just MDN… oh no wait I never made a personal insult and I was on topic, so it can’t be that, MDN’s word is their bond….

    If only they’d answer the email. I guess I’m just beneath them. Keep up the great work MDN, love it when you remove one of my on topic posts but leave the ones with personal insults directed to me.

      1. Sorry I don’t take orders and boredom, well that’s in the eye of the beholder, but that’s OK if you don’t take responsibility for it.

        Now to address the point you made about the topic at hand, oh wait, you didn’t make any.

  2. Never ceases to amaze me how these comment threads degenerate into nothing remotely pertaining to the article.

    The question really is, what law firm is stupid enough to sue for a billion based on facial recognition software that could link him to an Apple Store theft because he sort of looks like the perp, and admits he lost (or had stolen) an iD with his photo on it..

    1. There is no proof (as opposed to bare allegation) that facial recognition software was involved in this case at all. It doesn’t matter that the plaintiff looks sort of like the perp. The point is that the actual perp was using the plaintiff’s ID (which did not have a picture) and nobody knew it. The plaintiff is certainly a victim, but he should be suing the person responsible and not a fellow victim (Apple’s stuff got stolen, remember).

  3. Since several of you seem not to have read even the excerpted article above, let us recap:

    High school student says that he lost his NONPHOTO learner’s permit. It was used without his permission, he says, to attempt one or more fraudulent purchases from Apple, and the same person who did that was observed BY THE POLICE (Apple Security can’t get warrants) on store security footage committing multiple criminal offenses. No facial ID software was necessarily involved, except in the plaintiff’s allegation.

    Based on the connection between the multiple crimes and the ID, THE POLICE swore to a probable cause affidavit alleging that the perpetrator of the crimes and the person lawfully issued the ID were one and the same. They evidently didn’t double-check that apparently incorrect assumption before taking the affidavit before a neutral and impartial magistrate as required by the Fourth Amendment. The magistrate found that the applicant’s statement under oath was solid enough to show probable cause.

    THE JUDGE, not Apple, their security company, or the police, then issued a warrant for the person issued the ID, who was evidently not the actual thief. He was arrested, but was almost immediately released because he had an alibi for the time of some of the offenses and was clearly not the person in the crime-scene photos.

    Based on this, the plaintiff and his lawyers have invented a story that he was somehow targeted by the facial-ID system that Apple denies having, that Apple and its security team are at fault for taking the learner’s permit (which he admits was his) at face value, and that the state officials involved (police, judge, and possibly prosecutors) are not the ones who failed to do due diligence before arresting him.

    Somehow all this has damaged this high-school student to the tune of a billion dollars.

    1. While I would agree that a single such allegation would not warrant a billion, in the source article he claims “He was forced to respond to multiple false allegations which led to severe stress and hardship,” A billion may simply be a big number to be negotiated down in a settlement.

      1. All that Apple ever did was make multiple TRUE allegations that somebody using Ousmane Bah’s state-issued ID had committed multiple crimes victimizing the company. They had no duty to eliminate the possibility that the real Ousmane Bah was not the one using his real ID. Warrants do not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

        What the person filing the case knew was enough to constitute probable cause for a warrant. If Ousmane Bah had simply responded to the summons he ignored, he would have had an ample opportunity to avoid any stress or hardship by demonstrating his innocence, which he could easily do… and did do as soon as he was arrested.

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