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Amazon takes a small BIPA win; ID scan provider for weed store accused

Amazon takes a small BIPA win; ID scan provider for weed store accused

Biometrics privacy cases in the U.S. state of Illinois continue to bubble to the surface.

In the newest U.S. biometrics privacy pleadings, Amazon has eked out the merest fraction of victory in a case involving its face-scanning Photos service. And the use of ID verification by a national retail chain selling cannabis products has sparked a new suit involving TokenWorks, a verification software firm.

Amazon convinced a Cook County (Ill.) circuit court judge to dismiss the first of a two-count complaint under the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act. But its success is weaker than that, even.

In the first count, the plaintiffs, Angela Hogan and her minor son identified as B.H., have accused Amazon in a proposed class action (2021-CH-02330, via Law360) of violating BIPA by not complying with the company’s own policies for storing biometric identifiers.

The Judge decided that the plaintiffs “allege no set of facts entitling recovery.” This count was dismissed but without prejudice, meaning it can be amended and resubmitted.

Amazon’s move to dismiss the second count failed outright, however. This count alleges that Amazon did not give the same high priority to securing biometric identifiers that it gives to other data deemed internally to be top priority to protect. That would be a BIPA violation, if proven.

The judge found that the plaintiffs had made their case that this complaint should be argued in court.

The TokenWorks case is about verifying the identity of visitors to stores owned by cannabis purveyor PharmaCann. Store security personnel check IDs using TokenWorks scanners. Both companies are named in the case.

In the proposed class action (2023-CH-07268, also via Law360), also filed in the Cook County circuit court, plaintiffs Christopher Koltas and Kyle Morrell said that upon entering the store, their biometric data was captured, collected, stored and disseminated without their consent.

Most models of TokenWorks’ IDentiFake scanners do not acquire a second image for comparison, but the complaint alleges some versions integrate a camera and capture images for biometric matching.

What is more, the plaintiffs say TokenWorks has profited from PharmaCann’s use of its scanners.

The case was filed August 9 and it is not known when it will be scheduled for a trial.

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