When Can Your Employer Use Your Biometrics?

When Can Your Employer Use Your Biometrics?

In science fiction stories, there’s often a fine line between the utopian and dystopian. At the heart of every science fiction story is some technological advance that changes the world. The question is whether that advance changes the world for better or worse.

Importantly, these questions don’t simply exist within the realm of science fiction. They exist today, here and now, and impact countless workers – often without their knowledge or consent. Many of these questions center around the use of biometric identifiers.

More Employers Are Using Biometric Identifiers

Biometric identifiers are the unique physical characteristics you possess that others can use to identify you. As the state of Illinois defines them, they include scans of your:

  • Retina or iris
  • Fingerprint
  • Voice
  • Hand or face geometry

In recent years, these identifiers have increasingly made their way into the public consciousness. The technologies used to identify people by their biometrics have become a multi-billion-dollar industry. By 2025, experts expect the technologies to be worth roughly $59 billion per year, meaning you’ll see them everywhere.

Already, they enjoy widespread use in:

  • Law enforcement
  • Border control
  • Banks and financial services
  • Healthcare
  • Retail
  • Cars
  • Workplaces

In all these cases, people use your biometrics either to track your movements or in place of other security options, such as passwords. This means your biometric identifiers always connect to sensitive uses and information, and that leads to a considerable risk for potential misuse.

The Concern Over Biometric Identifiers

There are two primary concerns over biometric identifiers:

  • You cannot change your biometric identifiers
  • Others may be able to hack the systems that rely on them

Without strict safety and use rules, these facts can lead us down the dystopian path of science fiction stories. Companies may use your biometrics to track you, even when you don’t know or give permission. Hackers may fake your biometrics to steal your identity, or they may hack the servers where companies store all their biometrics data. In either case, you can see how the secret collection of your biometrics data may violate your privacy.

This is why Illinois passed the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) to limit what companies can do with your biometrics.

Five Things Illinois Employers Must Do Before Using Your Biometrics

BIPA does not prevent private companies, including employers, from using biometrics. However, it does restrict their use.

Before they use your biometric identifiers, BIPA says these companies must:

  1. Publish policies that state when and how they will destroy your biometrics data
  2. Destroy your biometrics data after their intended use or within three years of collection, whichever comes first
  3. Inform you, in writing, of their intent to use your biometric identifiers
  4. Explain to you, in writing, why they are using your biometric identifiers
  5. Receive your written consent

Companies must also follow similar rules for sharing and safeguarding your biometric data. When they violate your privacy by ignoring these rules, you may be able to recover as much as $1,000 to $5,000. The lower amount is for cases of simple negligence. The higher amount is for cases of recklessness or willful misuse.

USA Employment Lawyers Can Help You Protect Your Biometric Privacy

You have a right to privacy. This includes the privacy you expect in your home and the legal privacy that Illinois recognizes for your biometric identifiers. No one wants to live and work in a dystopian science fiction story. If your employer’s policies push you down that path by violating your privacy, you may have a right to compensation.

Contact USA Employment Lawyers to learn more about your rights and the steps you can take to uphold them.

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