One of the world’s biggest insurers is warning about the risks of biometric privacy legislation.
The warning comes by way of Chubb’s latest Cyber InFocus report, with Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (or “BIPA”) being singled out as one of two salient digital issues in the insurance industry right now. (The other, ‘iEncrypt’, is a dangerous kind of ransomware.) First enacted in 2008, BIPA regulates how businesses can use biometric identifiers, and lays out strong provisions concerning consent. Essentially, the legislation’s aim is to ensure that customers and employees aren’t compelled to provide their biometric information without explicit, informed consent.
In recent years, BIPA’s dragnet has caught some major tech companies, with a US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals having recently approved a class action lawsuit against Facebook to move forward, with the suit essentially revolving around Facebook’s automated ‘tagging’ of individuals’ faces in images uploaded to the platform. But other kinds of businesses have also started to run afoul of BIPA, with two new lawsuits emerging just this week over biometric employee attendance tracking practices at Burger King and Gurtler Chemicals in Illinois.
“Illinois courts have now seen an increase of BIPA-related litigation,” Chubb warns in its report. “Companies doing business in that state need to be aware of the law’s requirements, especially if the company regularly collects biometric information.”
That seems fairly straightforward. But in an accompanying statement, the insurer also gestures toward a growing trend beyond Illinois: “Biometric data regulation varies at the state level and has been a focus of U.S. federal and international legislators and regulators, so it is imperative that companies understand the legal requirements of each state and of the countries in which they conduct business,” the firm said.
BIPA has grabbed a growing number of headlines in recent months, but with a major insurer like Chubb – which lays claim to being the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurer – now raising the alarm over compliance with biometric regulations, it’s clear that this represents an important new legal frontier as the use of biometric technologies becomes increasingly commonplace around the world.
August 30, 2019 – by Alex Perala