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Tech Giants Sued for Alleged Facial Recognition Violations

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Illinois House

Credit: Daniel X. O’Neil, flickr.com, CC BY 2.0

by Russell Brandom, The Verge

For years, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act has been a headache for any tech company working with facial recognition. It’s a simple law, requiring a person’s explicit consent before a company can make a biometric scan of their body. In the eight years since the law was first passed, those scans have become a central part of products like Google Photos, Snapchat filters, and Facebook’s photo-tagging system. All three companies are currently facing lawsuits for allegedly violating the Illinois law, producing biometric face prints without notifying Illinois citizens.

Now, Illinois’ law is facing sudden and quiet changes that would dramatically reduce its power.

Yesterday, Illinois State Senator Terry Link quietly proposed a revision to the biometrics act, attached to a long-delayed bill concerning unclaimed property procedures. Under Link’s revisions, the bill would be limited to “data resulting from an in-person process whereby a part of the body is traversed by a detector or an electronic beam.” That conveniently rules out scans from preexisting photography, and — if the revisions become law — would end all three lawsuits in a single stroke.

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