What is the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act?

The Illinois Biometric Information Protection Act (BIPA) is a state law in Illinois enacted in 2008. BIPA is designed to protect individuals’ biometric information, such as fingerprints and facial scans, by regulating how organizations collect, store, and use this sensitive data. It requires organizations to obtain informed consent from individuals before collecting biometric data and to implement security measures to protect the privacy and security of this information. BIPA also gives individuals the right to take legal action against organizations that violate their biometric privacy rights.

See BigID in Action

Why is it important

The Illinois Biometric Information Protection Act (BIPA) was enacted to address growing concerns about the privacy and security of biometric data, such as fingerprints and facial scans. Several factors and concerns led to the creation of this regulation:

  1. Rapid Advancements in Biometric Technology: As biometric technology became more widespread and advanced, there was a need for specific legal safeguards to protect individuals from potential misuse of their biometric data.
  2. Data Privacy Concerns: The increasing collection and use of biometric data by businesses and organizations raised concerns about how this sensitive information was being handled, stored, and protected.
  3. Lack of Legal Protections: Prior to BIPA, there were limited legal protections in place specifically addressing biometric data. Existing privacy laws did not adequately cover the unique challenges posed by biometric information.
  4. Privacy Advocacy: Privacy advocates and consumer rights groups pushed for legislation to protect individuals’ biometric data, especially in the context of data breaches and identity theft.
  5. Legal Actions: Some high-profile cases involving the misuse of biometric data or data breaches prompted lawmakers to take action. Lawsuits against companies that allegedly violated individuals’ biometric privacy rights drew attention to the need for clearer regulations.

In response to these concerns and the evolving landscape of biometric technology, Illinois passed BIPA in 2008. BIPA has since served as a model for other states considering similar legislation to protect the privacy and security of biometric information. It places obligations on organizations that collect and use biometric data, including the requirement to obtain informed consent and implement data security measures. Violations of BIPA can lead to legal consequences, which has resulted in various lawsuits and settlements over the years.

Download the guide.

Examples of Compromised Biometric Data

Unauthorized Access to Biometric Data

Imagine a scenario where a company collects and stores employees’ fingerprints for biometric authentication purposes, such as accessing secure areas or logging into computer systems. Without proper safeguards in place, a malicious actor gains access to this biometric database through a data breach. With the stolen biometric data, they could potentially impersonate employees, gaining unauthorized access to secure areas, confidential information, or financial accounts. BIPA’s requirements for consent, data protection, and security measures can help prevent such breaches and protect individuals from these risks.

Biometric Data Sold Without Consent

In another scenario, a mobile app requests access to a user’s facial recognition data for seemingly innocent purposes, like creating fun filters or effects. However, unbeknownst to the user, the app developer collects and sells this biometric data to third-party advertisers without their explicit consent. This breach of privacy not only violates the user’s trust but also exposes them to targeted advertising, identity theft, or other malicious uses of their biometric information. BIPA’s consent requirements ensure that individuals have control over how their biometric data is used, preventing unauthorized or unethical data collection and sharing practices.

These examples illustrate the vulnerabilities associated with biometric data and why laws like the Illinois Biometric Information Protection Act are crucial to safeguard individuals’ privacy and security in an increasingly digital world. BIPA establishes rules and protections to ensure that biometric information is handled responsibly and transparently, reducing the risk of data misuse and the potential for harm to individuals.

Streamline BIPA Compliance Today

What should your organization do to adhere to Illinois’ BIPA laws

Protecting biometric data in compliance with the Illinois Biometric Information Protection Act (BIPA) is crucial to safeguard individuals’ privacy and security. Here are some best practices for organizations to manage biometric data effectively in Illinois:

  • Obtain Informed Consent: Always obtain explicit, written consent from individuals before collecting their biometric data and clearly explain the purpose and use of the biometric data.
  • Implement Strict Access Controls: Limit access to biometric data to authorized personnel only and use strong authentication methods, such as multi-factor authentication, to ensure only authorized users can access the data.
  • Encrypt Biometric Data: Encrypt biometric data both in storage and during transmission to prevent unauthorized access in case of data breaches.
  • Regularly Audit and Monitor Data Access: Implement comprehensive auditing and monitoring systems to track who accesses biometric data and when.
  • Data Retention and Disposal: Establish clear data retention policies and timelines for biometric data. Securely dispose of biometric data when it is no longer needed, following BIPA guidelines.
  • Incident Response Plan: Develop and maintain a robust incident response plan to address potential breaches of biometric data. Ensure prompt notification to affected individuals and relevant authorities as required by law.

BigID’s Approach to the Illinois Biometric Information Protection Act (BIPA)

Any organization subject to BIPA requirements must take action to secure their data and responsibly collect and govern PII. BigID’s automated data intelligence platform enables organizations to gain total visibility and control over their entire enterprise data ecosystem. No matter where it resides, both in cloud and on-prem— BigID discovers sensitive data in all its forms, at scale.

With BigID you can:

  • Identify, Classify, and Know Your Data: BigID’s data discovery foundation drills deep inside all structured and unstructured data, on-prem or in the cloud, with multiple connectors. This allows organizations to inventory, map, classify, and connect data to BIPA — and additional regulatory policies.
  • Monitor Processing Activities: With BigID, visual data flow mapping shows how data is processed and shared across the enterprise and third parties.
  • Reduce Data Access Risk: BigID can flag and investigate high-risk users, groups, and data across an organization. Companies can track and review files containing sensitive data with open access — and produce audit reports of high-risk targets.
  • Leverage Risk Scoring: BigID scores risk based on a variety of data parameters like data type and location, providing a risk-centric view of data so organizations can be proactive about reducing risk.

To get better prepared for BIPA compliance and all your organization’s privacy initiatives— schedule a 1:1 demo with BigID today.