Illinois’s Nation-Leading Biometric Privacy Protections Continue to Strengthen

Posted on March 16, 2023

Last month, the Illinois Supreme Court set a milestone legal precedent to strengthen the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (or “BIPA”). The ruling expands the scope of possible enforcement of already potent biometric privacy protections.

In the case before the Illinois Supreme Court, Cothron v. White Castle Systems, Inc., the plaintiff, a manager at a White Castle location, objected to her employer’s collection of employees’ fingerprints and undisclosed sharing with a third-party vendor as part of the company’s payroll system. White Castle rebuffed her complaint, contending that she could not seek damages under BIPA because the statute of limitations had expired since her employees enrolled in the biometrically equipped payroll system. Essentially, the company’s position was that, once employees enrolled in the payroll system which collected fingerprints, they had to file a complaint within the statute of limitations since that point in time.

The plaintiff disagreed, countering that each instance of improper fingerprint collection was a potential separate offense under BIPA, and sued White Castle for the right to extract damages under the law. The court sided with the plaintiff, setting the precedent that those wronged by improper biometric collection may seek damages on any individual instance of improper biometrics handling.

This ruling sharpens the teeth on an already significant level of biometric privacy protection. Companies and governments can no longer attempt to impose an ongoing biometric collection regime by sneaking it by and hoping employees or constituents fail to act in time. In enshrining this principle into law, Illinois continues to set the standard nationwide for biometric protection.

For more information, read the article on JDSupra here.