Seyfarth Synopsis: In September 2017, our blog posted a video highlighting an emerging class action litigation risk for employers – the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy, commonly known as “BIPA.” Since this time, class action filings under BIPA have exploded, including a potentially-landmark case against social media giant Facebook. Today, Seyfarth Shaw Associate Mike DeMarino discusses the Facebook case, as well as its potential impact on employers, with Partner Jerry Maatman.
The BIPA statute was enacted by the Illinois legislature in 2008 in an effort to keep up with various industries’ use of employees’ biometric data. In this context, biometric data refers to a number of measurements of individual biological patterns that can be used to identify individuals. Examples we have seen cited in BIPA litigation include retina/iris scans, fingerprints, voiceprints, and scans of hand/face geometry.
Though the BIPA statute was enacted in Illinois ten years ago, employers and litigators are still waiting to see how certain aspects of the law will be interpreted. A recent class action, entitled In Re Facebook Biometric Information Privacy Litigation, Case No. 15-CV-3747 (N.D. Cal.), may provide some important answers. This matter, filed by three Facebook users in Illinois, involves allegations that Facebook violated users’ rights to privacy under BIPA through its automatic face-tagging feature. On April 16, 2018, a federal judge in California certified (see order here) the class as all “Facebook users located in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011.” The case is set for trial in June 2018.
As Jerry explains in the video, employers should keep a close eye on the outcome of this class action. The key debate, centered around the concept of “standing” under Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016), has the potential to significantly impact future BIPA litigation. For a full explanation of this case and employer class action litigation risk under BIPA, make sure to watch the video above!