After its February 2, 2023, decision in Tims v. Black Horse Carriers, Inc., which held that a five-year statute of limitations applies to all claims brought under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), the Illinois Supreme Court has now answered the question of when a BIPA claim accrues: each time an entity scans or transmits an individual’s biometric identifier or information. Continue Reading BIPA Claims Accrue at Each Scan or Transmission, per Illinois Supreme Court
Today, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a long-awaited and highly-anticipated decision in Tims v. Black Horse Carriers, Inc., which is sure to have a long-term ripple effect on litigation under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) going forward. With no dissenting opinion, the Supreme Court reversed the Illinois First District Appellate Court’s decision applying two separate statutes of limitation depending on the section under which a plaintiff’s BIPA claim is brought. The Supreme Court held instead that the five-year catchall statute of limitations period contained in the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure applies to all BIPA claims. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that two separate statutes of limitation go against Illinois public policy and could cause an “unclear, inconvenient, inconsistent, and potentially unworkable regime” for BIPA litigation.Continue Reading Bad News for BIPA Defendants: Illinois Supreme Court Holds That Five-Year Statute of Limitations Applies to All BIPA Claims
On Wednesday, a federal jury broke new ground for lawsuits alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). Rogers v. BNSF Railway Co. is the first BIPA class action to go to trial in Illinois, and after only five days of trial and a mere hour of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff resulting in a whopping $228 million damage award to the class.
Continue Reading Are BIPA Claims a Runaway Train? Defendant Hit With $228 Million Federal Jury Verdict in Rogers v. BNSF Railway
The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday that the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) is not preempted by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (IWCA).
This decision clears the way for employees to pursue BIPA statutory damages ($1,000 for each negligent violation or $5,000 for each intentional or reckless violation), a significant and costly defeat for employers in a case that was followed closely by attorneys on both sides of the bar.Continue Reading BIPA Lives On: Illinois Supreme Court Rejects Common Employer Defense of Workers’ Comp Preemption
In a case of first impression, the Seventh Circuit just answered a much-anticipated question about standing in cases filed under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”). Bryant v. Compass Grp. USA, Inc. decided whether a BIPA plaintiff has Article III standing. The answer is both yes and no. This dual answer is not surprising given the awkwardness of the arguments presented. Though the holding is a victory for the defense bar, Bryant is the latest evidence of an ever-increasing circuit split that should culminate in the United States Supreme Court further clarifying its holding in Spokeo v. Robins concerning Article III standing.
Like most BIPA cases, the Bryant complaint was originally filed in Illinois state court. The Bryant plaintiff asserted claims under both sections 15(a) and 15(b) of BIPA. The former relates to the defendant’s failure to make publicly available disclosures, and the latter relates to the defendant’s failure to secure the plaintiff’s individual informed consent. The defendant removed the case to federal court. The plaintiff then moved to remand, ironically contending that she lacked a sufficiently concrete injury in fact to maintain Article III standing to maintain federal court jurisdiction. The defendant paradoxically argued that plaintiff alleged such an injury, relying on the Illinois Supreme Court opinion in Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entm’t Corp., wherein the court held that a violation of the right to receive certain information is an actionable grievance. The novelty of these arguments was not because of their substance, but instead, which side advanced them—an observation that Judge Wood noted in her opinion. Siding with the defendant, the district court remanded the case, and the plaintiff appealed.
Continue Reading BIPA Case Addressing Article III Standing Foreshadows Potential SCOTUS Review of Spokeo
The California Consumer Protection Act (“CCPA”) was in effect for just over three months when the American economy stopped cold in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Much effort was expended in the months before the January 1, 2020 effective date to ensure compliance with the CCPA which, like its European cousin, the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) aspires to protect data and personal information. But also like the GDPR, many anticipated enforcement by the California attorney general (scheduled to begin on July 1, 2020) to provide guidance on how the CCPA would be interpreted and applied. Then the world came to a halt. Literally. Notwithstanding, as discussed in our earlier post, the California Attorney General has signaled that businesses subject to the CCPA should not expect any delays in enforcement. To be clear, privacy concerns did not cease to exist because of the pandemic. These concerns simply took a back seat as the world focused on defeating the virus. But privacy rights may be moving to the forefront again with the advent of COVID-19 tracking applications under consideration by governments seeking to use this technology to contain the spread of the virus. Most recently, on April 10, 2020, Google and Apple announced a joint endeavor to use Bluetooth technology in conjunction with apps from public health authorities to allow contact tracing of those individuals affected with COVID-19. The system is supposed to ensure users’ privacy and operate only with valid consent. See also our recent blog post on Locating COVID-19 Without the Location Data. Although tracking technology is not new–other iterations were used to track other diseases such as the seasonal flu–its use here would be one of the first to be used in the CCPA era. And arguably, the need to comply with the CCPA–passed by referendum in one state–has affected the usefulness of contact tracing solutions in every state. The Apple-Google solution, for example, covers the vast majority of mobile devices and is likely to be the only solution agreed upon by these two companies. It skirts the need to handle geolocation data, reducing the regulatory footprint under the CCPA, but the very lack of geolocation data degrades the usefulness of this system to local governments for finding and locking down hotspots–and to users in avoiding them. Few, if any, privacy professionals envisioned that preparation for CCPA compliance needed to include protocols for responding to governmental requests for data in combatting a public health crisis. But here we are.
Continue Reading Will COVID-19 Finally Prompt a Federal Privacy Law?
Coverage litigation relating to liability claims arising out of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) has been relatively non-existent. One reason for this may be insurers’ reasonable conclusion that an exclusion introduced in 2006 in response to litigation arising under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) applies to this new genre of privacy litigation. That exclusion, generically referred as the Violation of Statutes Exclusion, was the insurance industry response to decisions from around the country finding that TCPA violations qualified as “personal injury” under liability policies. The exclusion evolved over time and now includes a catch-all provision that applies to violations of federal or state statutes or ordinances or regulations other than the enumerated statutes referenced in the exclusion—the TCPA, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). The Illinois court’s opinion in Westbend Mutual Insurance Ins. Co. v. Krishna Schaumburg Tan, Inc., 2020 Ill.App.(1st) 191384, is an example of how important the wording of that catch-all provision is for insurers seeking to rely on it to exclude coverage for BIPA violations.
Continue Reading Not All Violation of Statutes Exclusions Are Created Equal
This year may prove to be one in which the concepts of privacy vis-à-vis the government and private concerns may converge. In 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Carpenter v. United States, 138 S. Ct. 2206 (2018), that individuals have an expectation of privacy in cell-tower locations, and consequently, the government must obtain a warrant to retrieve that location data from a carrier. The 5-4 decision held that cell tower data is subject to Fourth Amendment protections because it implicates an individual’s “legitimate expectation of privacy in the record of his physical movements.” The Court also noted that the data is “detailed, encyclopedic, and effortlessly compiled,” id. at 2216, and that functioning in modern society does not allow people to simply opt-out of using mobile devices:
Continue Reading The Privatization of the Fourth Amendment?
Passed in 2008, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) regulates collection of biometric markers such as fingerprints or facial metrics. Since its passage, the Illinois BIPA has been used to restrict technology giants and their use of users’ personal information, particularly photographs. To understand the scale of this, Facebook reported in a 2013 whitepaper that its users have uploaded more than 250 billion photos. It was estimated in 2017 that the total number of digital photos stored in electronic databases was around 5 trillion.
Documenting and categorizing the faces of a significant percentage of the world’s population represents a major opportunity for technology and data companies. Ten years into enforcement and a figurative eternity into the technological evolution of the process, the Illinois BIPA has been an unavoidable feature of the big data landscape. Though potentially impactful cases remain pending (or on appeal), technology companies largely have been unable to convince courts that their facial recognition technologies should escape regulation under BIPA.
Continue Reading Technology Defendants Continue to Test Whether the Illinois BIPA Law Can Cope with Modern Facial Recognition Technology
In a ruling with implications for data privacy litigation nationwide, the Ninth Circuit recently stayed its decision allowing a biometric privacy class-action suit to proceed against Facebook, thus permitting the social media company to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. The outcome of Facebook’s appeal could affect the law of standing with respect to data privacy litigation.
The lawsuit arose from Facebook’s “Tag Suggestions” feature, which used facial recognition technology to match known user faces to unknown faces in uploaded pictures. If the technology recognized a match, then Facebook would notify the person who uploaded the picture and suggest that the uploader “tag” the person recognized. If the uploader followed the suggestion, Facebook would link the recognized person to the picture. Facebook enabled this feature by default, although users could opt out.
Continue Reading Facebook Seeks Post-Spokeo Review of Biometric Privacy Class Action