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Incoming attorney general vows to protect Illinois’ biometric privacy legislation

Incoming attorney general vows to protect Illinois’ biometric privacy legislation

The incoming Attorney General of Illinois, Kwame Raoul, says he will push back against any attempt to weaken the state’s biometric privacy legislation, Bloomberg Law reports.

Google, Facebook, and other companies have lobbied to make amendments to the law which would exclude photos submitted by users. Legislators tabled a motion to exempt businesses using biometrics for time and attendance and other applications earlier this year, but the bill is stalled in committee.

“States like Illinois have helped tame the Wild West of social media, but there is still much to be done,” Raoul told Bloomberg Law before the midterm elections. “I supported the Illinois Biometrics Information Privacy Act—the strongest law of its kind in the nation—because I understand that people use social media with the reasonable expectation that their biometric data will not be appropriated without authorization.”

Even though the attorney general does not have direct power over the legislature, privacy and cybersecurity lawyer Behnam Dayanim of Paul Hastings LLP says the attorney general’s position matters.

Raoul also said he plans to “work closely with the General Assembly to strengthen or clarify BIPA if amendments are necessary to achieve its purpose in light of changing technology and jurisprudence in this area.” Possible changes could include additional protections for children or social media users.

Electronic Frontier Foundation Senior Staff Attorney Adam Schwartz told Bloomberg Law that BIPA is the “national gold standard” for biometric data protection in the U.S., and that the group expects further attempts to be made to weaken it.

“We think that it’s more likely the law will hold if the legislative muscle of the Illinois AG stands on the side of biometric privacy,” Schwartz said.

Illinois Chamber of Commerce Director of Legislative Relations Tyler Diers points out that BIPA is as old as the iPhone 3G, but says the group is currently focused on the Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corp. case which is currently before the state’s Supreme Court.

The Internet Association recently weighed in on an ongoing BIPA lawsuit against Facebook, saying it could discourage new biometric applications.

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