The Security Industry Association (SIA) is advocating for the use biometric applications in Illinois, which could be threatened due to ongoing litigation. 

In 2021, a U.S. District approved a historic $650 million settlement to resolve claims that Meta, formerly Facebook, collected and stored users’ facial data without consent in violation of an Illinois privacy law. The judge's decision allows non-Facebook users in Illinois to put Meta on trial over its use of facial recognition technology, but to win the case they must prove Meta scanned and mapped their faces in uploaded photos.

While the case resolved the claims of Facebook users in Illinois, plaintiff Clayton Zellmer filed a separate suit on behalf of all non-Facebook users in the state who appeared in photos uploaded on the platform by others.

In response to Zellmer’s suit, SIA has filed an amicus brief in support of a U.S. District Court ruling that rejects an incorrect interpretation of requirements under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) of 2008 in a case under consideration by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a recent blog, SIA's Jake Parker, senior director of government relations, wrote, "While the plaintiff’s claims in Zellmer v. Meta Platforms involve a discontinued Facebook feature called Tag Suggestions, if upheld they would have much wider implications. Implementing BIPA-compliant security-related applications of biometric technologies, already difficult in Illinois, could become impossible. Particularly impacted would be access control systems, which must distinguish between authorized users that are enrolled versus non-users."

Parker stressed that SIA supports common-sense protections for biometric data and the responsible, ethical implementation of biometric technologies. However, Parker suggested, BIPA has long affected consumers in ways that were never intended, enriching trial lawyers instead of protecting consumer interests, and making many beneficial technologies unavailable due to litigation risk.

“Though falling just short of enactment, key reforms to BIPA received considerable bipartisan support in the Illinois legislature in 2023,” Parker explained. “In the meantime, the U.S. District Court’s dismissal of Zellmer must be upheld to prevent negative impacts stemming from BIPA from getting even worse.”

A decision from the Ninth Circuit is expected in 2024. To read SIA’s brief, click here.