illinois biometric information privacy act

What is the Illinois Law Behind the Google, Facebook Settlements?

Since BIPA is an Illinois law, it only applies to state residents

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

After several Illinois residents received checks in the mail following a Facebook settlement, more are now expected as part of a new Google settlement. It all stems from the same Illinois law.

The lawsuits against Google and Facebook claimed the companies violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. Neither company has admitted wrongdoing in the cases, but settlements led to checks for many residents.

Illinois’ Biometric Privacy Act prohibits private sector companies and institutions from collecting biometric data from unsuspecting citizens in the state or online, no matter where the business is based. Data cannot be sold, transferred or traded. Unlike any other state, citizens can sue for alleged violations, which has sparked hundreds of David-and-Goliath legal battles against some of the world’s most powerful companies.

If a company is found to have violated Illinois law, citizens can collect civil penalties up to $5,000 per violation compounded by the number of people affected and days involved. No state regulatory agency is involved in enforcement.

Since BIPA is an Illinois law, it only applies to state residents.

Last month, more than one million Illinois Facebook users began receiving checks following a $650 million settlement in a class-action suit alleging it violated residents' rights by collecting and storing digital scans of their faces without permission. Microsoft, Amazon and Google are among the companies that have also been accused of violations.

A class-action lawsuit has also been brought against Snapchat's parent company, accusing the social network of violating the act.

For more on who is eligible to file a claim in the Google settlement and how you can do so, click here.

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