Illinois legislators are considering revisions to the Biometric Information Privacy Act that are aimed at lessening its impact on smaller businesses.
As The Courier reports, the new bill – House Bill 559 – was advanced through the a state House judiciary committee this week. The proposed legislation would essentially given businesses accused of violating BIPA a 30-day period to resolve the issue and attain compliance before legal action can be taken against them.
One of the only pieces of state legislation concerning biometric privacy in the country, Illinois’ BIPA revolves around obtaining the consent of consumer before collecting their biometric data. It has ensnared major tech companies like Facebook and Google, as well as retailers including Macy’s and Walmart, among other organizations.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, who introduced Bill 559, framed it as a means of protecting smaller businesses from a piece of privacy legislation that has substantial overreach. Durkin suggested that BIPA has led to a “cottage industry for a select group of lawyers to file class action lawsuits against big and small employers and nonprofit agencies.”
While privacy advocates would argue that this so-called “cottage industry” is the result of an overly law attitude toward the privacy of citizens’ biometric data, it certainly is true that BIPA has led to a number of cases. The number of potential violations prompted one law office to appoint two biometrics legislation specialists to its Illinois legal team in 2019, and a Chicago-based outfit followed suit with the announcement of its own “Biometric Privacy Practice Group” soon after.
Backing up Durkin’s case, Illinois Chamber of Commerce VP Clark Kaericher said that over a thousand BIPA cases have been brought forward over the past two years, and asserted that most of them concerned smaller businesses that are more heavily impacted by BIPA’s fines.
Opponents of the bill, meanwhile, frame it as.a step backward with respect to protecting the personal data of Illinoisans, with one ACLU official asserting that “BIPA is working precisely as it was intended.”
In addition to providing a 30-day window of notice concerning BIPA violations, Bill 559 would remove some of the mandatory fines outlined in BIPA, replacing them with fines based on “actual damages”; and it would broaden the requirement of consumer “consent” beyond the “written release” that BIPA currently requires.
(Source: The Courier)
March 12, 2021 – by Alex Perala