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Illinois senator proposes gutting BIPA

Facebook, Google want looser controls over biometrics

The Center for Democracy and Technology is accusing Illinois senator Terry Link of planning to gut protections covering the use of biometric data by the IT sector.

The proposals to revise the state's Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) were quietly announced on Thursday night ahead of a weekend that ends with Memorial Day on May 30.

The CDT writes that the current law means “Any private entity that collects biometric data must create a written policy, and explicitly limit its retention of that data to either whenever it has satisfied the initial need for the data, or within three years of the last interaction with the individual — whichever comes first.”

The CDT's policy counsel Gautam Hans makes the hawk-eyed observation that the proposed legislation weakens those protections by changing the definition of what's protected.

In the proposal, “a “scan of face or hand geometry” must be done in person by an electronic beam, such as a laser. This means that digital facial recognition, done using software, wouldn’t be covered under the law anymore”, Hans writes.

Forbes accused the lawmakers of acting at the behest of Facebook and Google.

Facebook is certainly no fan of the Illinois data protection laws. When Nimesh Patel, Adam Pezen and Carlo Licata sued the company for breaking those laws, it first had the case moved to California, and then asked the Californian judge to dismiss the case. Earlier this month, its motion to dismiss was kiboshed by the US District Court. ®

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