At least four U.S. states are currently evaluating new laws or updates to existing laws regarding the collection and storage of biometric data. These laws include fingerprints, retina or iris scans, voiceprints or scans or records of hand or face geometry. Depending on the state, laws can also include things like keystroke and gait patterns as well as sleep, health and exercise data that contain identifying information.
Three states, Illinois, Texas and Washington, already have biometric data laws in place. Illinois passed the first law, which went into effect in 2008. Now the state is considering updates. The original law requires any private entity collecting biometric data to inform the subject in writing that their biometric data is being collected or stored and why and how long that data will be stored. The organization needs to receive a written release and cannot sell, lease, trade or otherwise profit from that biometric data. The law also includes a right of action, allowing any person whose data is collected or used inappropriately to file a lawsuit. A current bill in the Illinois legislature would amend the Biometric Information Privacy Act to remove the private right of action, so violations would be handled by the Illinois Department of Labor or Attorney General of Illinois.
Arizona, Massachusetts and Florida are considering their own biometric data laws. The proposed laws vary on what is considered biometric data and inclusion of a private right of action. However, they are similar to other existing laws.
Because of the growing popularity of this type of legislation, employers should ensure any systems they have that collect biometric data meet new and existing legal requirements. Systems include timeclock or security systems that include a fingerprint or retina scan, wellness programs that include sleep or exercise tracking or video interview platforms that use facial recognition or face scanning technologies.
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