A proposed class action alleges the Art Institute of Chicago has collected Illinois residents’ biometric information without first obtaining consent to do so or making certain statutory biometric privacy disclosures.
The case out of Cook County Circuit Court contends the AIC, which operates a private art school associated with the museum, has violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) by using facial recognition software to scan the faces of and print passes for visitors to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).
The lawsuit alleges the AIC has collected scans of Illinois residents’ faces, retinas and irises, i.e., biometric information, without satisfying the strict consent and disclosure requirements of the BIPA, a 2008 state law designed to protect consumers’ sensitive information from unauthorized use by private entities.
“As a result of Defendant’s conduct, Plaintiff and the putative Class lost the right to control the collection, use, and storage of their biometric identifiers and information and were exposed to ongoing, serious, and irreversible privacy risks—simply by visiting the AIC or SAIC,” the complaint charges.
The suit more specifically claims the AIC has violated the BIPA by failing to:
Inform visitors in writing that their biometric information was being collected or stored;
Inform visitors in writing of the specific purpose and length of time for which their data was being collected, stored and used;
Develop and comply with a publicly available retention policy and guidelines for the permanent destruction of the biometric data collected from Illinois residents;
Obtain a written release from visitors to collect their biometric information; and
Obtain consent from visitors to disclose, redisclose or otherwise disseminate their biometric information.
The plaintiff, an Illinois resident, claims to have visited the SAIC on July 23, 2021 to view an art exhibit and, after walking into the front door, entered a vestibule where an AXIS facial recognition camera had been placed at face level. At the front desk, security personnel took an image of both the plaintiff’s state identification card and his face using a handheld device and then printed a visitor’s pass that displayed his name, image, visitor status, the date and other information, according to the filing.
The plaintiff says that he learned through observation and his time at SAIC that the defendant had collected scans of his facial geometry, among other things, with devices equipped with facial recognition software. According to the lawsuit, however, the school never obtained the plaintiff’s written consent to do so or provided the required disclosures regarding the collection of his biometric data, much less a developed a retention policy outlining details on how and when the data would be destroyed.
The case alleges that “[n]o amount of time or money” can compensate the plaintiff if his biometric information is compromised due to the “intentional, reckless, and/or negligent procedures” through which his data was captured, stored and used. Moreover, the plaintiff would never have provided his biometric information had he known the data would be stored “for an indefinite period of time without his consent,” the filing says.
The lawsuit looks to cover anyone who entered any of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s campus locations in Illinois and had their facial geometry scans, biometric identifiers and/or biometric information collected, captured, received or otherwise obtained, maintained, stored, disclosed or disseminated by the defendant during the applicable statutory period.
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