Teen Slaps Apple With A $1 Billion Lawsuit After Facial Recognition Leads To False Arrest

Apple Store
Sammy Davis Jr. offered up some helpful advice to would be criminals in a theme song he sang for Baretta, a detective show that ran in the late 1970s. He said, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time." But what if you didn't do the crime in the first place? Well, if you're an 18-year-old student in New York, you apparently sue Apple for $1 billion.

That is the amount Ousmane Bah is seeking for being falsely accused and arrested for theft at an Apple Store, according to a lawsuit filed today. In the lawsuit, Bah claims he was at his senior prom in Manhattan when the alleged thefts occurred. So how exactly did he get accused of the crime to begin with, if he wasn't even there?

We only have the information from the lawsuit to go on, as reported by Bloomberg. According to the suit, Apple's facial recognition technology that it uses in its stores linked him to the culprit.

That would be unusual if he didn't actually set foot in the store and commit the crimes he's accused of, except for one thing—Bah says he had previously lost a learner's permit that did not contain his photo, and reckons the real thief picked it up and used his identify in various Apple Stores. He thinks Apple then connected the thief's face to his name in its facial recognition system, after the culprit stole stuff.

"He was forced to respond to multiple false allegations which led to severe stress and hardship,” Bah said in the complaint.

I'm not sure Bah will be successful in his lawsuit, and I'd be downright shocked if he was awarded anything close to $1 billion. If, as the lawsuit states, the arrest warrant did not match his photo, it seems his bigger beef would be with the police department than Apple. It also appears to me that Bah shares some culpability in losing his identification.

Then again, I'm not a lawyer. That said, there is some reason for concern here. Most people are probably not aware that Apple uses facial recognition technology in its stores to identify and track individuals. In this instance, it appears to have backfired, and it may cost the company a substantial sum.