Swedish data protection authority issues first fine for biometrics use under GDPR

Sweden’s data protection authority has issued a penalty of SEK 200,000 (US$20,650) to a school which used biometric facial recognition to record student attendance for violating Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The penalty is the first issued by Sweden’s regulator under GDPR, and while fines can reach SEK 10 million ($1 million), the amount of the fine imposed reflects the context of the offending party being a government authority, and the violation occurring as part of a limited trial. A high school in the town of Skellefteå used facial biometrics to conduct daily attendance checks in a trial that lasted three weeks, and included the data of 22 students, according to the regulator’s statement. School officials say consent was obtained from the students.

Data Inspectorate lawyer Ranja Bunni explained that the consent is not valid in this case because the students are in a position of dependence on the board.

“The High School Board in Skellefteå has violated several of the provisions of the Data Protection Regulation in a way that we now issue a penalty fee,” says Swedish Data Inspectorate Director General Lena Lindgren Schelin, as translated by Google.

“Facial recognition technology is in its infancy, but development is fast. We therefore see a great need to create clarity about what applies to all actors,” Schelin adds.

Adecco Group meanwhile has informed Belgium’s privacy regulator that the biometric data of roughly 2,000 employees of its Belgian business were exposed by the vulnerability recently identified in Suprema’s BioStar 2 system, Bloomberg News reports.

European companies are required to report breaches if there is a high risk to personal data, and the regulator is now investigating.

“This concerns the loss of control of extremely sensitive data of no fewer than 2,000 people,” Belgian Data Protection Authority President David Stevens said in a statement.

Suprema said in a statement after the data exposure was revealed that there are no indications any data was exfiltrated from the system.

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