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Customer sues McDonald’s for voice-recognition technology

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2021 | Business Litigation

Business, particularly restaurants and other service industries, are changing commerce in this country by using artificial intelligence and other technology. But new technology comes with fresh problems such as business litigation. A customer at an Illinois McDonald’s filed a lawsuit against the chain and claimed that it did not get his approval before using voice recognition technology to take his order.

Ordering technology

McDonald’s has been experimenting with the artificial intelligence-based voice assistance, Apprente, at drive throughs in 10 locations in and around Chicago. McDonald’s bought that technology in 2019.

The chain is trying to improve the technology’s accuracy for its possible use in other locations across the country. Operators consider it a possible labor-saving device because machines can take orders at drive throughs instead of human employees.

The role of artificial intelligence is growing in the restaurant industry and has been involved in a wide variety of tasks such as ordering and repairing espresso machines. Companies had to contend with privacy and other regulations as they aggressively use and adopt this technology.

Lombard drive through

The plaintiff went through a drive through a Lombard Illinois McDonalds in early 2020. The Apprente voice technology took his order even though he did not give prior approval.

The customer filed a lawsuit under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. This law requires companies to inform customers when they collect their voiceprints, fingerprints, facial scans, handprints, palm scans and other biometric information.

According to the lawsuit, McDonalds violated BIPA by using voice recognition technology to take the plaintiff’s order without his consent. The plaintiff claims that this law’s requirements are straightforward and can be easily met by obtaining a written record of consent.

The lawsuit also claims that McDonald’s AI voice technology exceeds real-time voiceprint analysis and recognition. The plaintiff claims that it incorporates machine-learning routines that use voice recognition with technology that scans license plates. This identifies individual customers who visited any McDonalds and present them with menu items based upon their earlier visits.

The case was filed in a state court. In June, it was taken to a federal court after the plaintiff asked for class action status.

Business must take steps to assure that their technology complies with the law and does not violate their customer, client, and employee’s rights. Attorneys can help them review their policies and protect their rights in lawsuits and government actions.

 

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