A pair of class action lawsuits have recently been filed in Illinois against Rivers Casino in De Plaines and retail giant Wallgreens, with plaintiffs claiming state laws were broken when their facial biometric geometry was recorded without their consent.
The lawsuits claim that plaintiffs’ rights were violated under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2008 (BIPA), which requires written authorization and notices to be posted when an individual’s biometric identifiers are to be recorded. A biometric identifier in these cases would be facial geometry, fingerprints, and retinal scans.
The use of biometric facial recognition technology in casinos for security has been adopted around the globe in recent years but this isn’t the only use for it. This past week Konami Gaming announced a new loyalty program that would use biometric facial scans of players to record their facial geometry as a way of tracking and rewarding their play instead of the tradition card-based loyalty programs many casinos currently offer.
In the Wallgreens case, the lawsuit stems from the retailers’ use of digital cooler doors, which the company began testing in January of this year. The doors use biometric sensors and cameras to record a customers’ choices when purchasing chilled beverages, ice creams and other refrigerated drinks from the coolers. The data obtained is then used to target customers with advertisements and discount offers that are displayed on the cooler doors as they browse the stock.
Similar to the Rivers Casino case, the lawsuit against Wallgreens states they did not seek the consent of the customers to record their biometric identifiers upon entering the store.
There has been a surge in lawsuits under the BIPA law – which stems from a prominent data breach more than a decade ago that placed a large number of people at heightened risk of identity theft – with home improvement retailers Home Depot and Lowes also seeing actions against them regarding the use of biometric scans implemented in an anti-shoplifting initiative earlier this year.
The lawsuits have been bolstered by an Illinois Supreme Court ruling in January where it was established that plaintiffs aren’t required to provide proof of their identities being stolen or placed at risk by the defendants if they were obtained in violation of the BIPA law.
October 23, 2019 – by Tony Bitzionis