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Illinois Supreme Court refuses to reconsider earlier ruling on biometric privacy law

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(The Center Square) – The Illinois Supreme Court has refused to reconsider an earlier decision that found violations of the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act occur each time an unauthorized scan is made.

The same four justices who decided a new BIPA violation occurs every time an unauthorized scan is made, such as a finger scan, ruled against White Castle in a petition for a rehearing.

Critics of the ruling said the interpretation will lead to massive monetary damage awards that could destroy businesses. White Castle warned that under the high court’s interpretation of the law, a jury could award a $17 billion penalty against it because 9,500 current and former employees were involved. White Castle had employees scan their fingerprint to access work computers.

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce was among several business groups that filed briefs urging the Supreme Court to reconsider its interpretation of when violations occur under the law.

Clark Kaericher, senior vice president of government affairs for the chamber, said BIPA is grossly outdated.

“BIPA came out in 2008 before the advent of the I-Phone,” Kaericher told The Center Square. “It is a dinosaur in technology days and needs to reflect modern trends, modern safety features and really the way the world works, which much has changed since 2008.”

BIPA establishes penalties of up to $1,000 for each unintentional violation and up to $5,000 for willful violations.

It was expected the Illinois General Assembly would address the law during the recently concluded spring session, but that didn’t happen.

A measure that included a 50% increase in the minimum penalty businesses faced for violating BIPA was roundly criticized by business and health care groups. The bill never made it to either chamber.

Kaericher is optimistic lawmakers will address BIPA the next time they convene.

“I’m hoping that in veto session or at the very least early next year, we can get something fixed,” he said. “I do think there is a pathway to getting something done and the stakes are simply too high not to do something.”

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