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Illinois Senate passes changes to state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act

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(The Center Square) – The Illinois Senate has passed legislation that would make changes to the liability guidelines in the Biometric Information Privacy Act.

Senate Bill 2979 from state Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, would limit the number of claims accrued should an employee bring a lawsuit against a company for a violation of BIPA. If a certain biometric identifier is collected by the same employer in the same manner, only one violation would accrue.

“The businesses that have failed to follow the law by getting consent to use biometric materials should be held accountable, but it is important that the punishment fits the crime,” said Cunningham. “Right now, I don’t think the law in this state accomplishes that.”

The Illinois Supreme Court upheld the “per-scan” damages in a lawsuit against White Castle, but noted that the technicality could be damaging for Illinois businesses.

“We decided to remain focused on the invitation we got from the Supreme Court to address the questions about liability and damages,” said Cunningham.

State Sen. John Curran, R-Downers Grove, said he wishes there were more changes to BIPA, but something had to be done to at least tweak the law.

“We are a true outlier in this country,” said Curran. “This is not a law that other states are saying Illinois got it right and we are going to follow suit and model the Illinois law.”

The measure also modernizes the manner in which written consent can be granted to include the use of electronic signatures.

The Senate passed the bill by a 46 to 13 vote and it now goes to the House for further action.

The Technology and Manufacturing Association applauded the Illinois Senate for passing the measure.

“We made it clear that we agree we need laws in place that protect privacy and support a fair biometrics data privacy policy while at the same time not putting businesses in a position where they could be subject to annihilation lawsuits,” TMA lobbyist David Curtin said in a statement.

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