Privacy Advocates Defeat Bill Challenging Biometrics Regulation

Privacy advocates are warning about the dangers posed by unregulated use of biometric technology in the wake of recent legal maneuvering in the US government.

Privacy Advocates Defeat Bill Challenging Biometrics RegulationJust ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, a bill was introduced into the Illinois General Assembly aimed at altering the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act so that its provisions would only apply to fingerprint and voiceprint protections, rather than the more expansive protections it previously offered for citizens’ biometric data. Groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Illinois ACLU, Consumer Watchdog, and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse sprung into action with a joint letter decrying the bill. The Senator behind the bill acknowledged the dissent and withdrew the proposed legislation.

In a post on its website, the EFF warned that the increasing use of biometric technologies poses a threat to citizens’ privacy, citing the FBI’s recent effort to exempt its NGI program from national privacy legislation, as well as retailers’ increasing use of facial recognition technology without customers’ consent or knowledge.

Meanwhile, the Illinois biometric privacy law called into question by the recently proposed bill has had costly consequences for major businesses such as Shutterfly and Facebook, which has faced ongoing legal challenges over its use of facial recognition technology. Concerns about stricter privacy laws in other countries have led Facebook to make alterations to its facial recognition technology in order to ensure its software reaches those markets.

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

June 10, 2016 – by Alex Perala