The state of Illinois passed the nation’s first biometric privacy protection law in 2008 with the support of the American Civil Liberties Union. The law protects each individual’s biometric data that connects to personal information, such as identity and financial accounts.
The law states you should control who can access your data and when. It also sets rules companies must follow when collecting, storing, and sharing data. The act requires them to form a policy regarding how long they keep your data. This applies to the data collected from website users and employees.
A biometric privacy attorney with Nessler & Associates can explain how the Biometric Information Privacy Act impacts you and your rights. We can provide legal representation when companies fail to protect your information and help you seek damages for the harm caused by their actions.
What is Biometric Information, and How is it Used?
Biometric information consists of physical traits unique to every person, even identical twins. Many companies have started using this data from employees or customers to prevent unauthorized persons from accessing restricted information.
Data Unique to Each Individual
Your genes and the environment in which you develop create your biometric data. This data is unique to every person, making it an excellent tool for workplace security. Data types used in security systems include fingerprints, facial recognition, voice prints, and iris scans.
Fingerprints consist of ridges that make unique patterns. Iris scans measure the patterns of color in the ring around your pupil. Some scans use infrared light and find patterns not seen by the naked eye. Computers examine speech to make voice prints.
You Cannot Change Your Biometric Data
Biometrics applies measurements and statistics to physical traits. Once your features have formed, you cannot change them. Facial recognition, for example, measures the distances between facial features, so weight gain or loss has a minimal effect.
This permanence makes it suitable for confirming your identity. However, if a hacker accesses your biometric data, you may become a fraud or identity theft victim.
Security Measures Use Biometric Data to Confirm Identity
Your employer may use biometric data to limit access to sensitive information or areas. Some companies might use your data to secure financial transactions. Security companies may use biometric data to complete airport security, immigration, and customs processing faster. Smartphones often use biometrics to protect personal data.
What is the Biometric Information Privacy Act?
Illinois passed the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) in 2008, regulating the collection, storage, and sharing of biometric data. It is the most robust biometric privacy law in the US.
Under the BIPA, private entities must tell you what biometric data they are collecting and how they will use it in written format. They must also explain why they need the data and how long they will keep it. You must give your written consent for them to store your data.
Obligations Regarding Stored Information
Companies may not sell, lease, trade, or profit from your biometric data. They can only share your data:
- With your written consent
- As part of a transaction you authorized
- To comply with local, state, or federal law
- To comply with a warrant or subpoena issued by a court
Companies must store and share biometric data using the same precautions as other types of sensitive information like healthcare records or personal digital data. These precautions keep thieves from stealing your details from the site or during data transfer.
What Happens When a Company Violates BIPA?
Violation of BIPA entitles you to civil justice. A privacy lawyer with the law firm of Nessler & Associates can discuss your legal options under BIPA, such as seeking compensation under a class action lawsuit or having the company fined for its carelessness.
If you undertake legal action, your lawyer can help you obtain compensation for your legal fees from the company that violated your biometric privacy rights.
Under section 740 ILCS 14/20, BIPA provides statutory damages, including at least $1,000 for a negligent violation or $5,000 for a reckless violation. You can seek additional compensation if your lawyer proves actual damages above these totals.
The law also includes payment for your legal bills and other expenses related to BIPA litigation.
Hire a Lawyer with a Winning Track Record
If you discover that your biometric data has been shared or stolen, contact an Illinois biometric information privacy lawyer for help. We understand the impact identity theft and fraud can have on your life.
The skilled lawyers with Nessler & Associates have a winning track record with multiple case types in Illinois, winning millions of dollars for our clients in damages. Our former clients highly recommend our services to those looking for competent legal representation.
Call Nessler & Associates at (800) 727-8010 to schedule a free case review and learn how the privacy law affects your claim and how we can help you win.