Illinois Supreme Court Protects Biometric Privacy


    The collection and use of biometric data gets more widespread and invasive each year. That’s why it’s more important than ever to advocate for—and defend—robust privacy laws in this space.

    The Illinois Biometric Privacy Act, or BIPA, is the strongest biometric privacy law in the United States. Last week, in Rosenbach v. Six Flags, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected an amusement park’s argument that violation of a privacy statute is a mere “technical violation.” The plaintiff in that case, a 14-year-old who says his thumbprint was collected without his informed consent, will be allowed to move forward with a lawsuit.

    EFF, along with ACLU, CDT, and other allied groups, filed an amicus brief asking for a strong interpretation of BIPA. We’ve been resisting big business efforts to gut BIPA for years now, and we’re glad the Illinois Supreme Court agreed with us in this case.

    It could have major ramifications for a separate case against Facebook, involving biometric face surveillance, that's currently on appeal in California. Like the defendant in the Illinois case, Facebook is arguing that losing one’s privacy rights isn’t enough to support a lawsuit, and that a plaintiff must show additional harm in order to sue. Hopefully, the strong result in Rosenbach shuts down that flawed argument once and for all.