The Electronic Frontier Foundation has weighed in on the recent Appellate Court ruling that cleared the way for a class action lawsuit against Facebook. The lawsuit alleges that Facebook gathered biometric information from users without achieving proper consent.
The facts of the case haven’t changed since earlier reports, but the EFF’s breakdown does help explain why the lawsuit is so significant. The digital rights group called particular attention to the “private right of action” clause in the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which allows any private individual to bring a lawsuit against a corporation that violates their rights. Without that clause, enforcement would rest in the hands of state regulators that may not make such incidents a priority.
The private right of action lets individuals make the decision to defend themselves. That makes it much more likely that corporate violations will end up in court, and that the organizations committing those violations will be held accountable.
That’s why the EFF argues that BIPA is currently one of the most important pieces of American privacy legislation, and should be the template for similar bills in other states. However, the EFF does warn against the threat of weak Federal legislation, noting that big tech companies may push for more favorable laws that preempt strong state laws like those on the books in California and Illinois.
The organization also re-emphasized the importance of court rulings that have held that biometric privacy violations represent substantial harm in and of themselves, which gives plaintiffs more standing to bring a case to federal court.
August 12, 2019 – by Eric Weiss