Illinois Biometrics Law Gets New Ally in Incoming Attorney General

Illinois Biometrics Law Gets New Ally in Incoming Attorney GeneralIllinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) has a potentially powerful new defender in the state’s newly-elected Attorney General, Kwame Raoul.

The law, passed a decade ago, is aimed at protecting citizens’ privacy rights with respect to their biometric data, with a central component being a requirement that any companies collecting such data obtain clear consent. As the popular use of biometrics and particularly facial recognition has escalated over the last few years, the law has ensnared major tech companies including Facebook and Google, often due to the application of facial recognition technology to user photos on social media.

Industry groups have lobbied to weaken the law’s provisions, and Senator Bill Cunningham introduced a bill earlier this year to amend the law so that companies would be allowed to collect biometric data from employees. But as Bloomberg Law’s Sara Merken reports, the incoming Attorney General, Kwame Raoul, has indicated that he means to fight any legislation aimed at making the law less effective, asserting he “will work closely with the General Assembly to strengthen or clarify BIPA if amendments are necessary to achieve its purpose in light of changing technology and jurisprudence in this area.”

As Attorney General, Raoul will not have formal powers concerning such legislation, but legal experts believe that he will be able to exert influence over any debate, acting as a figurehead for the state’s apparatus of legal officers.

Meanwhile, a current case before the Illinois Supreme Court will determine whether victims of malfeasance under the law will be required to show that they have suffered harm – a determination that could significantly weaken the law. The case is scheduled to enter oral argument on November 20th.

Source: Bloomberg Law

November 12, 2018 – by Alex Perala