In a move that may have substantial consequences for companies that collect biometric data, the Seventh Circuit has held that a violation of the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) alone constitutes sufficient harm to establish standing under Article III of the United States Constitution. This means that any company that violates BIPA by failing to adequately protect biometric data could be held legally liable for a data breach. This ruling is a significant victory for consumer privacy, and a warning to companies who collect and store biometric data from their customers or clients.
BIPA was originally passed in 2008 to address concerns around products and services that collect people’s biometric data, an issue that has only grown in significance since the law was first passed. Biometric data includes things like fingerprints, facial scans, DNA sequences, hand geometry, iris/retina scans, and other biological information that can be used to identify a person. Originally, this data was primarily collected and used by security firms and products, but increasingly it is used by commercial products and services that do not necessarily take sufficient measures to protect the data they collect.
Although BIPA is not a new law, it is still a hotly contested one, with state and federal courts disagreeing about the level of harm that needs to be demonstrated before a case can go forward. What makes this new case, Bryant v. Compass Grp. USA, Inc., unusual is it is the first time a federal court has allowed a BIPA claim to go forward without concrete evidence of a specific harm beyond the violation of the law. If the plaintiff is ultimately victorious in this case, it could have a substantial impact on every company that currently collects biometric data, especially those who have been lax about protecting the data they collect.
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