What is BIPA? Biometric Information Privacy Act
As the overall use of biometric data increases, many states have begun to regulate the collection, storage, and disclosure of biometric data. Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) is one state law that successfully addresses these practices. In 2008, the Illinois BIPA was signed into law, and it was designed to address the growing use of biometric identification technology: fingerprint or hand-print identification, retina scans, facial recognition technology, voice analysis or voice-prints, and various medical measurements.
Under BIPA in Illinois, businesses and employers must comply with specific notice and consent requirements before they collect, store, and use biometric data. Moreover, these businesses and employers must create public data retention policies and take proactive steps to protect and restrict the disclosure of biometric data.
How Does BIPA Protect Me? Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act
BIPA provides individuals and employees a private right of action to file a lawsuit for the failure to provide notice of biometric data collection, failure to acquire employee consent of biometric data collection, improper collection of biometric data, improper storage of biometric data, and improper use of biometric data. Additionally, it provides for statutory damages against an alleged BIPA violator.
"The BIPA requires private entities to inform persons in writing about the specific purposes and length of time for which their biometric information will be collected, used or stored. And no private entity may collect, use or store biometric information without first receiving a written release by the person whose biometric information is sought. The statute further requires a written schedule and guidelines for the retention and destruction of the biometric information to be made public. And the BIPA mandates consent and notice procedures that private entities must follow before disclosing someone’s biometric information to a third party."
"Under the BIPA, Illinoisans have the right to sue private parties for violations of the act and to collect the greater of $1,000 or actual damages for each violation negligently committed, and the greater of $5,000 or actual damages for each violation recklessly or intentionally committed. Plaintiffs can also collect attorneys’ fees and costs under the BIPA."
What are Biometrics? How are Biometrics Used?
Biometric technologies are used to verify identity quickly and accurately by examining an individual's physical characteristics, such as eyes, retinas, hand-prints, fingerprints, voice analysis, etc. Most people interact with biometric technologies several times a day: logging into your mobile phone, performing online banking, entering the workplace, or clocking in and out of work.
As biometric technologies have become more prevalent, private industries are utilizing biometrics to provide increased security, replace the need for traditional passwords, and enhance consumer experience. As biometric technologies become more common, they are being used in consumer banking, healthcare, hospitality, transportation, and a multitude of additional private employers. Typically, employers are integrating biometrics into the workplace to monitor employee activity, track employee activities, monitor work hours, and to collect employment information.
The most common types of biometric technologies used by employers:
• Fingerprint ID & Hand-Print ID Technology
• Facial Feature Recognition Software
• Eye Recognition & Retina Scan Software
• Voice Analysis & Voice Print Technology
Recent BIPA Cases & BIPA Lawsuits
Since 2015, many class action lawsuits have popped up around the country. These suits include actions against Facebook, Shutterfly, and Google for alleged BIPA violations. Specifically, these particular cases are concerning the capture and storage of employee facial features.
The use of biometrics as a tool for achieving stronger security or improved customer experience is becoming increasingly common. Before your business integrates biometric technologies into its platforms and processes, it is important to understand the risks that they pose to customers’ personal privacy and the legal ramifications of using such technologies.
One of the more concerning BIPA lawsuits filed are on behalf of employees against employers based on the use of biometric information in the workplace. According to IllinoisPolicy.org, "Roundy’s, which operates the Mariano’s grocery store chain, InterContinental Hotels Group and Zayo Group were sued under the BIPA over the allegedly improper collection and storage of employee biometrics such as fingerprints and hand scans."
Since July 2017, multiple class-action lawsuits have been filed in Illinois state court by current and former employees alleging their employers had violated the BIPA. A multitude of employers are being sued for alleged BIPA violations: Speedway, LLC; Greencore USA-CPG Partners, LLC; Peacock Foods; Superior Air-Ground Ambulance Service, Inc; Millard Group, LLC; Alliance Ground International, LLC; Pineapple Hospitality Company; Pineapple Restaurant Group, LLC; The Alise; ABRA Auto Body & Glass; and many more.
In nearly all of the employee BIPA cases, the employees have alleged their employers used fingerprint-operated machines or hand-print operated machines to clock or track employee work hours. In many instances, the employees allege that their employers "failed to inform employees about the companies’ policies for use, storage and ultimate destruction of the fingerprint data or obtain the employees’ written consent before collecting, using or storing the biometric information."
Potential Impacts of Biometric Data Breaches
Employees, consumers, and everyone else interacting with biometric technologies should be concerned about the privacy and security of their biometric information, as the General Assembly noted,
“Biometrics … are biologically unique to the individual; therefore, once compromised, the individual has no recourse, is at heightened risk for identity theft, and is likely to withdraw from biometric-facilitated transactions.”
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Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane represents employees and consumers in class action lawsuits against businesses and corporations around the world that improperly utilize biometric data technologies. If your employer is collecting biometric data, you may have a case. Please contact the Employee Rights lawyers at Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane by filling out an online contact form or by calling 314-833-4825 for a FREE Consultation.