Four consumers allege 7-Eleven has unlawfully collected, stored and used Illinois shoppers’ facial scans, and possibly other biometric identifiers, without first obtaining written consent to do so or providing statutory disclosures.
The 23-page proposed class action alleges 7-Eleven has run afoul of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) by using at its locations in the state cameras and advanced video surveillance systems that, unbeknownst to consumers, secretly collect, capture, possess and otherwise obtain their biometric data.
According to the filing, numerous 7-Eleven locations in Chicago use surveillance systems provided by Clickit, an intelligent video solutions provider. The case says that although Clickit’s technology is purportedly configured to operate without using facial recognition software or algorithms, it nevertheless violates the Illinois BIPA because it scans faces and recognizes facial features.
The suit states that Clickit, in an attempt to alleviate privacy concerns, notes that the face scans and biometric data it collects can be deleted on a daily basis. This “suggested strategy,” the lawsuit argues, ignores the fact that the collection of biometric data, regardless of the amount of time it is kept or anonymized, still violates the BIPA.
“This is underscored by the fact that 7-Eleven store-fronts, interiors, and exteriors are not equipped with visible signs to notify customers that their Biometric Data will be captured or collected when they enter 7-Eleven stores,” the complaint says, claiming that 7-Eleven, despite using Clickit’s video surveillance technology, has not disclosed whether it uses facial recognition tech in the United States.
Further, 7-Eleven also has its own proprietary surveillance technology with facial recognition capabilities, the suit claims.
Under the BIPA, a private entity in Illinois who deals with consumer biometric data, which can include a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint or a scan of a person’s hand or facial geometry, must inform a person in writing that their biometric information is being collected, the suit states. A private entity is also required to inform the person of the specific purpose and length of time for which a biometric identifier will be collected, stored and used, and receive a written release from the individual authorizing the collection of their data. Lastly, a private entity must publish a publicly available retention schedule and guidelines for permanently destroying consumers’ biometric identifiers, the case says.
Moreover, the law obligates a private entity who deals with consumer biometric data to store, transmit and protect from disclosure the sensitive information in line with industry-wide standards of care, and bars the company from selling, leasing, trading or otherwise profiting from a person or customer’s biometric identifiers, the filing relays.
“7-Eleven does not notify customers of this fact prior to store entry, nor does it obtain consent prior to capturing and collecting its customers’ Biometric Data,” the complaint alleges. “Further, 7-Eleven does not provide a publicly available policy establishing a retention schedule and guidelines for permanently destroying this Biometric Data.”
According to the complaint, 7-Eleven was investigated in 2021 for similar alleged conduct by the Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, who found that the retailer had “interfered with customers’ privacy by collecting their face prints without their information or consent.” Moreover, the company has acknowledged that it has been using facial recognition technology at its stores in Thailand since 2018, the case states.
The lawsuit looks to represent all individuals who, while residing in Illinois, had their biometric data collected, captured, received or otherwise obtained and/or stored by 7-Eleven.
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