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| 1 minute read

Illinois Senate votes to rein in BIPA damages

On April 11, the Illinois Senate voted 49-13 to amend the state's Biometric Information Privacy Act, limiting the number of claims that accrue in common applications. In Cothron v. White Castle, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that a new claim accrued each time an individual scanned his or her biometric information. With employees using biometric markers such as thumb prints to use time clocks or access restricted spaces, an employee could accrue dozens of claims in a single day.  With statutory damages of $1,000 - $5,000 per violation, the rule announced in Cothron could result in astronomical damage awards. 

Following the Supreme Court's invitation, SB 2979 revises the accrual rule so that if a private entity collects or discloses an individual's biometric information multiple times using the same collection method, it will result in only one claim.  This rule would essentially limit an employee to one BIPA claim against his or her employer, even if the employee scans his or her biometric identifier multiple times each day throughout his or her employment. The revision also adds a definition for an “electronic signature” so employees can acknowledge in writing that they received required disclosures using commonly available technology.

The bill was backed by industry groups looking to put a check on virtually unlimited exposure, though some groups argue the bill does not go far enough as it is not expressly retroactive.  The bill now moves to the House for consideration.


litigation, l&e, privacy cybersecurity