Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Long Reach of Biometrics Privacy Law

Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Long Reach of Biometrics Privacy Law

The Illinois Supreme Court has issued its ruling on a pivotal case concerning the state’s biometric privacy law, with a unanimous decision upholding its broad scope.

The case, Rosenbach v. Six Flags, was brought forward by the mother whose son was, at the age of 14, fingerprinted at the Six Flags amusement park as part of its visitor identification system. Stacy Rosenbach launched a lawsuit arguing that this practice violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA, which requires organizations to obtain informed consent before collecting an individual’s biometric information.

Six Flags’ defense essentially argued that the case should be dismissed because it did not cause evident harm, an argument that would have essentially restricted the reach of BIPA if the Supreme Court justices had accepted it, since any future cases would then have been burdened with the need to show evidence of harm even if the collection of biometrics clearly did not involve consent. But the justices did not accept it, ruling that when biometric data is collected without informed consent, “[t]he precise harm the Illinois legislature sought to prevent is then realized.”

The ruling comes almost a month after a district court judge in Chicago dismissed a BIPA case brought against Google on similar grounds, asserting that Google’s automated use of biometric identification technology on images of a woman uploaded to its Photos platform did not cause “concrete injuries” to the plaintiff. That case now has solid grounds for appeal, with the Illinois Supreme Court’s latest ruling clarifying for all that BIPA’s scope is as broad as it initially seemed.

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

January 28, 2019 – by Alex Perala