The company who operates summer camp photo and video gallery Bunk1.com faces a proposed class action that alleges it has unlawfully collected, stored, used and disclosed the sensitive biometric information of some Illinois residents.
The 21-page lawsuit against AckerCamps.com LLC claims the company, whose Bunk1 website partners with summer camps across the United States and Canada to “offer families a simple way of staying connected with their campers,” has violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), a state law that governs private entities who deal with biometric information such as facial scans, fingerprints and voiceprints.
Bunk1.com is advertised by AckerCamps.com LLC as equipped with facial recognition software that sends a notification whenever a photo of a specific person is posted. For the defendant’s system to work, the case says, users must upload a high-resolution, close-up profile photo of a specific person, so the website’s facial recognition software can identify their facial geometry and detect possible matches within its online photo galleries.
Bunk1.com’s online photo galleries function, at least in part, by scanning, collecting, storing and using consumers’ facial biometrics, including those of counselors, staff, siblings, parents and other people aside from campers who appear in uploaded photos, the suit states.
According to the complaint, “[t]his exposes Defendant’s customers, potential customers, as well as any person in the camp’s photos, including Plaintiffs, to serious and irreversible privacy risks.”
“For example, if a biometric database is hacked, breached, or otherwise exposed – such as in the recent Equifax data breach – consumers have no means by which to prevent identity theft, unauthorized tracking, and other improper or unlawful use of this information.”
The BIPA mandates that companies such as AckerCamps.com LLC obtain a written release from an individual prior to capturing, collecting and/or storing their biometric information, the lawsuit stresses.
The law also obligates the defendant to inform potential customers in writing that a biometric identifier or biometric information is being collected or captured, as well as how long it will store their biometric data and any purposes for which it is being captured, the complaint relays. Lastly, the defendant by law must make available a written policy disclosing when it will permanently destroy the biometric information it has collected, the suit says.
“BIPA makes all of these requirements a precondition to the collection or recording of face geometry scans, or other associated biometric information. Under the Act, no biometric identifiers or biometric information may be captured, collected, purchased, or otherwise obtained if these pre-capture, pre-collection, pre-storage, or pre-obtainment requirements are not met.”
AckerCamps.com LLC has captured, collected or otherwise obtained the biometric identifiers of Illinois consumers without properly obtaining a written executed release, and without making the required disclosures concerning collection, storage, use, and destruction, the lawsuit alleges. The company also lacks retention schedules and guidelines for permanently destroying the data, and “has not and will not destroy” the information as required by the BIPA, the suit claims.
The case looks to cover all persons who had their biometric identifiers, facial geometry, faceprints or facial data captured, collected, or received by AckerCamps.com LLC while residing in Illinois within the last five years and until a class is certified in the lawsuit.
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