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No end seen for parade of biometric privacy court cases as Maine bill advances

No end seen for parade of biometric privacy court cases as Maine bill advances

Maybe businesses that are collecting biometric data like it is sand on a public beach think privacy lawsuits are just the cost of doing business.

Given the court costs (and potential reputation damage) resulting from even a successful defense of biometrics cases, it is hard to understand why the private sector cannot lobby its way to coherent digital privacy laws.

March is a good month to consider this.

Legislators in the state of Maine, not what anyone would think of as a high-regulation environment, are considering a bill that would set consent and retention rules, and ban sales of biometric data.

And related lawsuit news is plentiful.

To start: Jordan Stein continues her fight with computer-vision software maker Clarifai.

Last year, she claimed in court that Clarifai used images from dating site OKCupid to improve Clarifai’s facial recognition products. Stein, an Illinois resident, said Clarifai broke the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act.

A judge dismissed the case on the grounds of personal jurisdiction, according to a report by law firm Blank Rome.

Stein filed a new case against Clarifai last week.

The first suit did not worry potential investors overly much. Clarifai closed a $60 million series C round led by New Enterprise Associates. Also participating: Menlo Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Lux Capital, LDV Capital, NYU Innovation Venture Fund and others.

Tesla is also being sued under Illinois’ BIPA, for allegedly violating the biometric data privacy law with the driver monitoring in-cabin camera that is part of its autopilot and self-driving systems.

The full self-driving system, which uses face biometrics and eye-tracking to make sure drivers are paying attention to the road, according to the complaint, is a paid add-on feature for Tesla Model 3s and Model Ys. Plaintiff Peter Platt alleges Tesla violated BIPA’s informed consent, data retention schedule and storage disclosure rules, and used his data to train its machine learning models.

This follows, in just three weeks ending March 4, 14 BIPA-related biometric privacy cases filed in Illinois, including the following from the Cook County Record:

Tameka Little vs. Altitude Health Services and Pamela Readdy vs. Kindred THC Chicago. Altitude allegedly collected fingerprints from employees as they clocked in. Kindred THC also collected employee fingerprint biometrics, but from a scanner securing a product-dispensing machine.

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