BIPA Reforms: No Action in Spring Session, Hopeful for Veto Session 

One hot item the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce has been following at the state level is proposed BIPA reforms.  BIPA stands for the Biometric Information Privacy Act and you should understand how detrimental this well-intentioned law has become for business. The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce has spent time this legislative session reaching out to members of our General Assembly urging them to make some much-needed and meaningful BIPA reforms. 

This is not a new request as the NACC has consistently requested common-sense reforms to BIPA – what is now considered one of the toughest laws of its kind.  In 2008, the Illinois General Assembly passed one of the very first laws in the nation that addressed how businesses collect biometric data.  At that time, a set of rules were set in motion that we would later come to find would have a detrimental effect on businesses.   

These laws were: 

  • Informed consent prior to data collection 
  • A business cannot profit from biometric data 
  • Provided a private right of action for individuals harmed by violations 
  • Provided statutory damages – up to $1000 for each violation and $5000 for each intentional or reckless violation 

The “rules” at face value seemed relatively innocuous.  However, over the years, we have found that they open businesses up to damages every time an individual’s biometric information is scanned or transmitted, which opens businesses up to liabilities totaling millions or even billions of dollars.  

Damages must be recouped somehow, and often trickles to the consumer…the very group of folks the General Assembly set to protect.  In the process, it is destroying businesses and ultimately jobs.  

A coalition of business groups around the state have worked together to ask that common sense reforms be considered. Basic changes such as limiting the statute of limitations to one year, allowing the Attorney General to issue advisory opinions on an organization’s compliance efforts, allowing for a “notice and cure” period to allow for businesses to take a corrective course of action in instances where no “harm” has occurred, and updating the law to require proof of actual harm to an individual before a fine is assessed would have been a good start.   

Unfortunately, this Spring Session, the Illinois General Assembly refused to take on the issue in a meaningful way.  A measure was introduced that would address some of the concerns but then added language doubling the fines. The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce will continue our work to advocate for business forward policies. We remain hopeful the issue will be revisited in the fall veto session.  

Please contact the Director of Government Affairs, Beth Goncher for more information on BIPA. 

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