Do you have a claim under the Illinois biometrics privacy law?

Firm News | October 9, 2019

Biometrics or the use of unique physical identifiers such as facial structure, voice patterns, irises or fingerprints, have been in the news quite a bit recently. The reason so many people are paying attention to biometrics is that there is interest in integrating police body cameras, security cameras and vehicle cameras with biometric systems.

There has also been an increase in public concern about the collection of their biometric information by private companies such as Facebook. With biometrics now allowing everything from access to bank accounts to mobile devices, the potential for the illegal collection, sale or theft of biometric information about individuals is of concern to the public.

Thankfully, Illinois has long been ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and social advances. This is readily apparent when you consider the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. This law protects you from the illegal or unauthorized collection of your biometric information.

What does the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act do?

At its most basic, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act specifically protects individuals from other people or businesses collecting their biometric information without written authorization to do so.

The more people that have a record of your biometric information, the greater the potential for someone to abuse that information or sell it to someone else for future identity theft purposes.

Any individual or company who intends to collect your biometric information must notify you and obtain your consent in writing. Protecting your unique biometric identifiers is of particular importance because once your biometric markers become compromised, there is no way for you to adjust or change them as you can with a phone number, Social Security number or other artificial identifiers.

What are the legal consequences of biometric information theft?

There are penalties for those who violate the law, and those penalties vary depending on the nature of the offense. For unintentional violations of the Biometric Information Privacy Act, the person who commits the violation may have to pay damages to the affected individual in the amount of $1,000.

If the violation of the act was intentional or reckless in the eyes of the courts, the amount of potential damages increases to $5,000. It is possible for companies that you work with, as a client or customer, as well as your employer, to violate your rights by collecting your biometric information without previous written consent.

You can take action to protect your personal biometric information

To take action against someone collecting your biometric information, you do not need evidence that the action resulted in the sharing or sale of your personal identifying information. You only have to show that the other party collected your biometric information without written consent.

There are certain limitations on how and when someone can take action related to a violation of their right to biometric privacy. Talking with an experienced medical privacy attorney about any suspected violation of the Biometric Information Privacy Act can help you explore what options you have.