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BIPA Settlement Bodes Well for Consumers

December 20, 2016 | David P. MilianArticles

A class action suit brought against L.A. Tan has recently been settled, reports Illinois Policy. The case was filed under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), one of the only statutes nationwide that allows consumers to seek statutory damages for improper collection and storage of their biometric identifiers.

L.A. Tan's use of fingerprint scanners in lieu of key fobs came under fire due to the company's failure to obtain written consent from customers, as stipulated under the Illinois law. In a victory for consumers' privacy rights, L.A. Tan will "establish procedures for complying with the BIPA's requirements or will destroy all the fingerprint data it has collected from its customers."

"The outcome is reassuring for anyone concerned about the handling of private information like facial-recognition data or fingerprints," the author notes. Carey Rodriguez Milian Gonya, LLP has focused particularly on the former in its litigation under BIPA, as the firm seeks to hold Silicon Valley tech giants operating in Illinois accountable to the provisions of what is undoubtedly our country's most comprehensive biometric privacy statute.

The article points out that, contrary to what some news sources have reported, the L.A. Tan settlement is not in fact the first to be reached under the law. 

"Although media outlets have described the L.A. Tan case as the first settlement under the BIPA, parties reached a settlement in another BIPA-related case, Norberg v. Shutterfly, in 2016," the author writes. "The plaintiff in the case against Shutterfly alleged that the online photo site used facial-recognition software that measures a person’s unique facial geometry (e.g., the distance between a person’s eyes, nose and ears) to allow the plaintiff’s photo to be identified and marked with his name without his consent." 

CRMG's David Milian, who represented plaintiffs in Norberg v. Shutterfly, spoke to the need for responsible and proactive litigation to protect consumers' biometric privacy rights in the absence of federal legislation. 

"Biometric data privacy is a very important emerging area of law," he says, "and our firm is committed to continuing to lead these historic new cases that may define how such sensitive, private data is handled in the future."

Read the full article in Illinois Policy here.