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2019 signalled significant growth in both regulatory focus and litigation involving biometric privacy. The passage of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the addition of biometrics to numerous state data breach notification laws (including New York), and continued class action lawsuits emanating from Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) made biometrics a trend line in 2019 that shows no signs of slowing down in 2020. State legislatures will continue to take note of BIPA’s impact in Illinois and will watch closely as the CCPA is effective as of January 1, 2020, taking cues as to whether or how to implement statutory and regulatory frameworks for biometrics in their own states. Organizations that collect and use consumer or employee biometric data should be aware of their obligations and be on the lookout for more activity on both the regulatory compliance and litigation fronts in the new year.

BIPA provides an express private right of action for consumers who claim that their biometric privacy rights have been violated. In January of 2019, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed this right when it ruled in Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corp. that a plaintiff need only allege a violation of BIPA, not an allegation of actual harm, in order to plead a claim under the Act. Since this decision, BIPA has continued to spawn an onslaught of biometric privacy class actions.

Continue Reading Biometric privacy: The year in review and looking toward 2020